Stuff that occurs to me

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Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

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Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Here's what I might put in an imaginary film / TV festival of weird British stuff

When I came across the Belbury Parish magazine I had a bit of an 'aha' moment and understood better all the slightly odd cultural reference points I'd grown up with. It was all a bit weird in the 70s and 80s though I'd probably not really noticed it at the time.
"There's nothing wrong with men in their forties enjoying shared tastes and nostalgic triggers, but do they have to be so po-faced about it?" The Quietus
If I was running an imaginary film festival / celebration of television programmes at the BFI here are some of the things I might put in it. Of course there'd be anti-deep-vein-thrombosis breaks every couple of hours otherwise I'd just sit watching the entire thing for a day, lost in a dwam.

I've put small versions of the YouTube videos below but just click to enlarge / watch them at YouTube.

The Clangers (1972)
Narrated by Oliver Postgate (who also narrated the marvellous 'Alchemists of Sound', a 2003 about the history of the Radiophonic Workshop) with music by Vernon Elliott.

In this episode Tiny Clanger helps get a flying machine to actually fly by using notes from the musical tree proving that you just need the right music to get going.

See also: Ivor the Engine

Dr Who (1974-ish)
Beyond the wonderful Tom Baker and co I remember very little about the actual storylines, it's really just the music - written by Ron Grainer and arranged by Delia Derbyshire, and tweaked by various people throughout the series' life that grabbed me. Mark Ayres explanation, in the Alchemists of Sound, of how it was put together with tape loops is one of my favourite bits of recorded television. It's just after the lead-in at 15m 20s in the third video below.

See also: Blake's Seven

Children of the Stones (1976)
"...widely regarded as the scariest children's television serial ever made. It's chilling theme music, eerie atmosphere sending a generation of terrified youngsters scurrying behind the sofa" - so says the continuity announcer for Stewart Lee's Radio 4 programme about the serial. I never saw it - I found it by accident while I was looking for another kids programme (not found it yet, bunch of children, something to do with an amulet, but it's not Children of the Stones).

I watched this last Christmas in full, loved it.

Sherlock Holmes (1984)
The Devil's Foot (1988)
Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke head off to Cornwall and while there investigate some mysterious deaths. It involves a rather good bit in which Holmes experiences a sort of botanical acid trip with some colourful cinematography and some strange music, at about 36 minutes in.

If there ever was a Sherlock prom I think I'd secretly quite like it if they included the theme tune from this series as well.

Robin of Sherwood (1984)
I watched this religiously (along with Sherlock Holmes) every week when it was on, usually round at the house of family friends. We loved Michael Praed and the pagan references. And the music of course.

Box of Delights (1984)
I actually have no recollection of this at all - I discovered it last year after reading a blog talking about strange programmes from my childhood. Not sure how I can have missed it but it's a little bit magical and has a great theme tune.

The Moondial (1988)
I was 18 when this was broadcast so probably getting a bit old for this sort of thing but I loved the opening theme music and secretly wished I was called Araminta ;)

Alchemists of Sound (2003)
The only programme I've seen since the 1980s that really captures some of my childhood, thanks to the music of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. I saw it when first broadcast and stayed up until 3 in the morning to watch the repeat. Fortunately it's now available on YouTube in high resolution. The highest resolution version I have is 700mb, not sure if that's what's on YouTube (I didn't put it there).

Berberian Sound Studio (2012)
Peter Strickland's evocative film about sound effects / Foley. It's wonderful and spooky, set in a 1970s Italian studio while making a film about witchcraft with a lot of women screaming, the on-screen violence is never shown, only through sound effects - it's also very funny. Soundtrack is by Broadcast, the Quietus quote above comes from the article (they like the soundtrack, just complaining about the term 'hauntology'). Toby Jones plays an English sound engineer who goes to the studio to help them with their sound effects, he doesn't have a very lovely time there.

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