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.




Big Finish licence for The Avengers extendedBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 12 March 2014 - Reported by Marcus
Big Finish Productions has signed an extended licence with STUDIOCANAL to produce full cast audio productions of the entire first season of the classic TV series The Avengers.

The Avengers first launched in 1961, and starred Ian Hendry as Dr David Keel and Patrick Macnee as the elusive and suave John Steed. Beginning with the murder of Keel’s fiancée, and his sworn intent to avenge her death, that first year comprised 26 episodes. Sadly, only two of them exist in their entirety as film prints (Girl on the Trapeze and The Frighteners), while just the first act remains of the opening episode, Hot Snow.

Box Set One of The Avengers: The Lost Episodes, starring Anthony Howell as Dr Keel and Julian Wadham as Steed, is available now and has received much acclaim. It comprises the episodes Hot Snow, Brought to Book, Square Root of Evil and One for the Mortuary.

SFX Magazine
A minor triumph

Starburst Magazine
If you were ever a fan of the TV series, are interested in the early 1960s or just want a few hours of cracking drama to listen to, this is a must buy.

Sci-Fi Bulletin
A great success: Howell and Wadham work very well together as Keel and Steed; the scripts have been brought to life as authentically as possible, the music feels like the scores from 1961… It’s reawakened a love for The Avengers - and now I’ve got 139 other episodes on the way…!
In total, seven box sets of The Avengers: The Lost Episodes will now be released at six monthly intervals until January 2017. All of the 24 missing episodes will now be recreated from surviving scripts and storylines, while both Girl on the Trapeze and The Frighteners will be remade on audio to complete the series.

The director is Ken Bentley, the script editor is John Dorney and the producer is David Richardson. The executive producers are Nicholas Briggs and Jason Haigh-Ellery.

All surviving episodes of The Avengers Series 1-6 are available on DVD from STUDIOCANAL.




BBC Radio to celebrate Hitchhiker's Guide To The GalaxyBookmark and Share

Friday, 7 March 2014 - Reported by John Bowman
BBC Radio 4 Extra is bringing listeners the brand-new 30th anniversary edition of the Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy Game online and broadcasting the first two series from tomorrow - 36 years to the day since the first radio broadcast of Hitchhiker's and 30 years since the invention of the award-winning game.

Hitchhiker's started life as a BBC Radio 4 series in March 1978. The original scripts by the late Douglas Adams spawned novels, a feature film, at least three stage shows, a TV series and a collection of comic books - as well as various towels.

The game was devised in 1984 by Adams and Steve Meretzky from Infocom. Notoriously difficult and full of oddities, it was one of the best-selling games of its era.

The 20th-anniversary edition of the game launched on Radio 4's website in 2004, and more than three million moves were made in the game in its first three days of launch and more than 50 million moves had been played within six months. It went on to win a BAFTA for Best Online Entertainment.

The 30th-anniversary specially-updated version of the game will allow users to share their achievements with friends over social media via the official Twitter feed @h2g2game.

The game will now be in high definition, thanks to refreshed illustrations and graphics. It is web-based and will be accessible via Radio 4 Extra's website. Players will also be able to take the game on the move, as it will be compatible with tablets and other internet enabled devices.

Radio 4 Extra will also be broadcasting series one and two of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy. It has been more than 10 years since these programmes were last heard on BBC Radio and they perfectly accompany the game. Actions within the game follow the plot of the radio series and some puzzles are only solvable by players with knowledge of the programmes and story.

The single-player game starts with lead character Arthur Dent working his way through a series of different challenges and zones. Players use a specially-designed keyboard to enter their commands and there are achievements to be won throughout the game by completing a series of tasks. This interactive work of fiction sees players visiting other planets, meeting aliens and robots, and creating (or losing) the plot, based on their decisions and choices as they progress through the game. It is renowned for its difficulty and it never misses a chance to kill players off in hilarious and infuriating ways.

Caroline Raphael, commissioning editor for Radio 4 Extra, said:
Douglas was a true visionary and in his own glorious way foresaw all the technology we now take for granted. Radio 4 Extra is delighted to host this game alongside the first two series. Hitchhiker's fans will be rewarded for their loyalty over the years and newer fans have a real, but fiendish, treat in store. March 8th is a special day for the galaxy, so help us celebrate it in the unique way that only BBC Radio 4 Extra can.
The first episode of the first series will be broadcast at 6pm, with further episodes following weekly in the same slot on Saturdays.

And later this month, the original Hitchhiker's cast will continue to shake up the Radio 4 schedule when they reunite for a special performance, broadcast live from the BBC Radio Theatre in Broadcasting House. Led by Simon Jones as Arthur Dent, they will be bringing to life the characters created for them by Adams in highlights from the entire Hitchhiker's saga. The actors will be joined on stage by a Special Guest Voice Of The Book - Adams's long-time collaborator and sometime flatmate John Lloyd, who co-wrote the fifth and sixth episodes of the first series and was associate producer of the TV version.

It takes place on Saturday 29th March at 10am as part of the Character Invasion event that will see some of the nation's best-loved characters invade Radio 4 and take over the airwaves. Tickets for the show can be applied for via this link. Please note that they will be allocated via a random draw. People can register for up to four tickets per household at any time until Thursday 13th March at 4pm. Other broadcasts that same day can also be applied for, but should you be successful in the draw you will only receive tickets for one session. It should also be noted that allocation of the free tickets does not guarantee entry.




Wizards vs Aliens gets third seriesBookmark and Share

Monday, 3 March 2014 - Reported by John Bowman
The CBBC sci-fi adventure series Wizards vs Aliens has been recommissioned for a third series, it was announced today.

The drama - created by Russell T Davies and Phil Ford - follows the young wizard Tom Clarke, played by Scott Haran, and his scientific friend Benny Sherwood, portrayed by Percelle Ascott, as they try to stop the Nekross, who are threatening to destroy all of wizardkind - and the Earth - in their pursuit of magic.

It will start production next month to air in 2014/15, said the BBC, which added:
In this brand-new series, the pace steps up as Tom and Benny come face to face with a new alien race and a whole variety of magical creatures. Meanwhile, Varg has a new wife by his side, but the mysterious Lady Lyzera has a secret of her own . . .
CBBC controller Cheryl Taylor said:
CBBC is the home of thrilling and inspiring drama for children and Wizards vs Aliens is a perfect example of that.

The series is vivid and brave and our audience loves the portrayal of loyal friendship alongside exciting alien battles and stunning wizardry.

Children want to talk about Tom, Benny and the Nekross and we know they'll be delighted to hear a third series is being conjured up by the talented team in Wales.
The first series comprised 12 episodes, with series 2 comprising 14. It is currently unknown how many episodes will make up the third series.

Produced by BBC Cymru Wales, it is filmed at the BBC's Roath Lock Studios in Cardiff and on location around the area. Series three will be executive-produced by Ford and Nikki Wilson for BBC Wales and Sue Nott for CBBC.

UPDATE - 5th MARCH: The BBC told News In Time And Space today that the third series would comprise 10 episodes. This will make it the shortest series so far.