Exhibition to celebrate 90 years of BBC children's programmesBookmark and Share

Thursday, 13 March 2014 - Reported by John Bowman
An exhibition examining the changing world of the BBC's programmes for children is to take place later this year.

Here's One We Made Earlier - which echoes the famous catchphrase from Blue Peter - is to be held at The Lowry in Salford between Saturday 19th July and Sunday 12th October and will look at the past, present and future of children's broadcasting on the BBC.

The interactive exhibition will pull together iconic items, footage, puppets and props from the BBC's archives as well as from private and public collections across the country, as it explores the complete story of the BBC's programming for children from the first days of broadcasting in 1922 with the launch of Children's Hour right up to the present multi-media moment.

It will be co-curated with local children, and as well as revisiting favourite broadcast moments from across the generations, visitors will also be able to look behind the scenes, have a go at being a presenter, and try a range of hands-on activities.

In addition, the exhibition will examine how children's broadcasting has both changed and remained the same over almost a century - from when toddlers were asked to "sit comfortably" to today's children who take centre-stage on air and online.

Joe Godwin, the director of BBC Children's, said:
It's great to be launching an exhibition of this kind in partnership with our close neighbours at The Lowry. From Muffin The Mule and Andy Pandy to Crackerjack, Newsround and Blue Peter, most British childhoods have been defined by the programmes and characters we love when we're young, many of them provided by the BBC.

It's really exciting to be able to showcase current programmes, as well as look back at some favourites from the past 92 years of BBC children's programmes. Families will be able to come along and enjoy the exhibition together, which is incredibly important to us, and we're looking forward to hearing what visitors think.
Michael Simpson, director of visual arts and engagement at The Lowry, said:
This exhibition is as much about today as it is about yesterday. There will be plenty of blasts from the past, but it will also be looking at how relevant and important children's broadcasting remains, and how children's viewing and listening habits are changing.




Children's TV to be marked with special stamps issueBookmark and Share

Friday, 3 January 2014 - Reported by John Bowman
Characters from much-loved children's TV shows are being celebrated with a special issue of stamps from Royal Mail.

The Classic Children's TV set - to be released on Tuesday 7th January - comprises 12 first-class stamps depicting some of the most popular shows from more than 60 years of television, with the stamps designed so that the characters "break out" of the border.

The full line-up features Andy Pandy, Ivor the Engine, Dougal - from The Magic Roundabout, Windy Miller - from Camberwick Green, Mr Benn, Great Uncle Bulgaria - from The Wombles, Bagpuss, Paddington Bear, Postman Pat, Bob the Builder, Peppa Pig, and Shaun the Sheep.

First-day covers can be franked either with the Royal Mail's Tallents House handstamp or a Wimbledon postmark, the latter chosen because the suburban London district's Common is the home of the Wombles.

2014 will mark the 40th anniversary of Bagpuss first appearing on TV, with the saggy cloth cat continually cited as one of the favourite British children's TV characters of all time. This year will also mark the 50th anniversary of the debut of the French-British show The Magic Roundabout on French TV, subsequently dubbed with new scripts - written and performed by Eric Thompson - and originally broadcast on BBC TV between 1965 and 1977. The prolific British animator Ivor Wood created Dougal, one of the show's memorable characters, who also ranks highly in people's affections. Wood also went on to animate Paddington Bear and Postman Pat for TV.

Each decade since the 1950s is represented in this issue. Even the older programmes have been frequently repeated and new series created of them. Such is the popularity of these characters that 2014 will see the films Postman Pat: The Movie - You Know You're The One - including the voice of David Tennant - and Paddington (with the voice of Hugh Bonneville as Mr Brown) hit the big screen at cinemas nationwide, while 2015 will see a return to television for the Wombles and a new CGI series giving them a hi-tech makeover.

Many of the shows have acquired cult status, and while intended for a young audience they also attract devoted adult fans. Such was the appeal of The Magic Roundabout that when, in 1967, it was moved to an earlier timeslot, the BBC received complaints from the programme's adult fans who could not get home in time from work to watch the show.

Andrew Hammond, of Royal Mail Stamps, said:
For over 60 years, Britain's children's TV characters have brought cheer to generations of viewers. More importantly, it has presented us with a cast of characters that, like the memories of the programmes themselves, remain with us throughout our lives.

It feels appropriate to celebrate all of these unforgettable characters on a set of very special stamps.
The stamps and various items of merchandise relating to the issue are available to pre-order worldwide from the Royal Mail shop. They will be available by phone on 08457 641 641 and in 10,000 Post Offices throughout the UK from 7th January.

Last year, Royal Mail brought out a set of stamps celebrating the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, which were hugely popular, with pre-orders being three times the usual number.

The Wimbledon postmark for the first day cover of the Classic Children's TV stamps set. Picture: Royal MailThe Andy Pandy stamp. Picture: Royal MailThe Bagpuss stamp. Picture: Royal MailThe Bob the Builder stamp. Picture: Royal MailThe Windy Miller stamp. Picture: Royal MailA Wimbledon-postmarked first day cover for the Classic Children's TV stamps set. Picture: Royal MailFiller card for the Classic Children's TV stamps set. Picture: Royal MailThe presentation pack for the Classic Children's TV stamps set. Picture: Royal MailThe inner card for the Classic Children's TV stamps set. Picture: Royal MailThe Ivor the Engine stamp. Picture: Royal MailThe Dougal stamp. Picture: Royal MailThe Mr Benn stamp. Picture: Royal MailThe Paddington Bear stamp. Picture: Royal MailThe Peppa Pig stamp. Picture: Royal MailThe Postman Pat stamp. Picture: Royal MailThe Shaun the Sheep stamp. Picture: Royal MailThe Tallents House handstamp for the Classic Children's TV issue first day cover. Picture: Royal MailThe Great Uncle Bulgaria stamp. Picture: Royal Mail




Cool Gothic at the BFIBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 29 October 2013 - Reported by John Bowman
The BFI Southbank will be looking closely at the emergence of Cool Gothic And The New Vampire next week with a host of special guests plus illustrative clips from TV series such as Being Human, In The Flesh, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The Fades, and True Blood.

Taking place on Monday 4th November at 6.30pm, it will feature a panel discussion hosted by film critic Danny Leigh, who will be joined by actors Anthony Head (Buffy), Damien Molony (Being Human) and Lily Loveless (The Fades), creators/writers Toby Whithouse (Being Human) and Dominic Mitchell (In The Flesh), and director Farren Blackburn (The Fades).
Ever since Anne Rice gave the vampire a conscience in Interview with the Vampire, the Gothic myth has been reinterpreted for a new generation. Here, the creative teams behind such "new Gothic" works as Being Human, In the Flesh, The Fades, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer are assembled to discuss the resurrection of Gothic myths on our TV screen and their vast appeal to today's generation. Illustrated with clips of these vastly successful shows and others, our panel will examine the whole "Cool Gothic" phenomenon.
Tickets can be bought via this link.

The event is part of the BFI's blockbuster project Gothic: The Dark Heart of Film.

UPDATE: THURSDAY 28th NOVEMBER: A clip of Buffy and Angel creator Joss Whedon talking about vampires - taken from the BFI's Joss Whedon In Conversation event of 12th June 2013 - was uploaded to the BFI's YouTube channel two days ago:


The full conversation can be seen here.




Hitchhiker's stage show cancelled mid-tourBookmark and Share

Saturday, 26 October 2013 - Reported by John Bowman
Poor ticket sales have led to the sudden cancellation of the touring production of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy Radio Show Live!

It was pulled ahead of a performance due to be held at The Hawth in Crawley last Monday, with ticket-holders being told to contact venues for refunds. The show was due to continue touring until the end of November.

A notice on the production's website reads:
The Radio Theatre Company deeply regret to announce the immediate cancellation of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy Radio Show 2013 Tour. Tonight's performance at The Hawth, Crawley, and tomorrow's at the Watford Colosseum will not take place, nor will any of the remaining scheduled shows in October and November. Ticket-holders are being contacted and should contact venues for refunds.

Although a well-loved show, Hitchhiker's Live has been subject to the same extreme economic pressures as many productions touring the UK this autumn. Ticket sales across the board have been lower than average and we have not escaped this trend. A difficult financial environment for such a large and technical show means that covering operating costs has become impossible. As a result, in the last 24 hours we have had no option but make the extremely hard and painful decision to stop the tour.

We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and share the extreme disappointment and frustration felt by many who were looking forward to seeing the show. we sincerely hope that it can be brought back in the future.
Simon Jones, who had been reprising the role of Arthur Dent, posted the following joint statement with director Dirk Maggs on his Facebook page:
With infinite regret, despite happy audiences and 5-star reviews, we have been forced to curtail this tour ahead of schedule due to economic adversity. Having worked so hard to put on a show worthy of Douglas Adams and his devoted fans, we are utterly devastated.

It has been a pleasure to be a part of a company, band and crew who have become a close-knit family. We know people hoping to see the show will be as horribly disappointed as we are, and offer our heartfelt apologies for any inconvenience this has caused.
The show first toured last year, reuniting many of the original radio and TV cast members and with guest performers such as Neil Gaiman providing the voice of The Book.




Sherlock Series 3 approachesBookmark and Share

Thursday, 24 October 2013 - Reported by John Bowman
A confirmed start date for the third series of Sherlock has been announced - for the USA.

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as Dr John Watson, it will be shown on PBS as part of its Masterpiece strand, beginning on Sunday 19th January at 10pm. It is the first time that its US première has been announced ahead of the UK's. However, regarding its UK transmission, co-creator Steven Moffat was reported to have told Cheltenham Literary Festival last week:
I would place good money on it being at the very end or the very beginning of the year.
His wife, Sue Vertue, said in a statement:
We are hugely excited about this next series of Sherlock, and have worked closely with our partners, Masterpiece and PBS, to bring these episodes to US audiences in January. We promise our fans that Season 3 is worth waiting for.
Fellow co-creator Mark Gatiss tweeted yesterday:

Rebecca Eaton, the executive producer of Masterpiece, told Entertainment Weekly that the new episodes were "fantastic" and "jaw-dropping", adding:
They are like small movies. Benedict and Martin are so in their Sherlock-Watson groove. They are so comfortable with that relationship it's like being in the room with them.
The first instalment of the three-episode run is called The Empty Hearse, with the second entitled The Sign of Three, and the third The Last Vow.




Patrick McGoohan To Be Celebrated By BFIBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 26 June 2013 - Reported by John Bowman
The acting talent of cult star Patrick McGoohan is to be celebrated by the BFI with a season of his TV and film work.

Taking place throughout August this year, Patrick McGoohan: A Genuine Original will see screenings ranging from the Armchair Theatre episode The Man Out There – which originally aired on 12th March 1961 and saw McGoohan playing a cosmonaut, Nicholai Soloviov, who is trapped while in orbit – to rare footage relating to probably his most famous and iconic role: that of The Prisoner, which was first broadcast between September 1967 and February 1968.

Other gems will include two episodes from the 1960s series Danger Man, in which he played secret agent John Drake, plus his stage appearance in the Ibsen play Brand, filmed by the BBC and shown on 11th August 1959.

The BFI said:
Patrick McGoohan's most famous role was undoubtedly as Number Six in The Prisoner but his career was more than just this one iconic role. This season will offer audiences the opportunity to reappraise an actor who famously turned down the roles of James Bond and The Saint.

Born in America but brought up in Ireland and Britain, McGoohan started his career backstage at the Sheffield Playhouse Theatre, and before long he was making on-stage appearances, proving to be a natural. During the 1950s, he appeared in several productions in London's West End, where he was spotted by Orson Welles, who then cast him as Starbuck in his production of his self-penned drama Moby Dick-Rehearsed at the Duke of York's Theatre in the summer of 1955.

McGoohan's first film appearance was as an uncredited RAF guard outside the briefing room in the 1955 feature The Dam Busters, and he went on to appear in many movies, including the critically-acclaimed and Oscar-nominated Ice Station Zebra (also being shown during this season) in 1968, the 1981 sci-fi/horror Scanners, and 1995's Oscar-winning Braveheart.

Aside from Danger Man and The Prisoner, he starred in the TV series Rafferty, in which he played a retired army doctor who had moved into private practice, and he had a lengthy association with the detective series Columbo, for which he received two Emmys. McGoohan also received a BAFTA for an earlier appearance in the Armchair Theatre anthology series. He died in January 2009, aged 80.

Tickets to all the screenings go on public sale on Tuesday 9th July.