Archive for the ‘BBC Archival Policies’ Category

Could the BBC please rerun The Last Duel?

I’m talking about The Last Duel: A True Story of Trial by Combat in Medieval France (PID b0074sh3).

With all the reruns of Medieval themed programmes, this one never gets repeated.  Toss in that it is the version which isn’t all over the internet. No, that one is about something different.

Not to reinvent the wheel:

The story comes from a book by Eric Jager concerning the last officially recognized judicial duel fought in France. It tells the story of the December 29, 1386 trial by combat between Norman knight Jean de Carrouges and the squire Jacques Le Gris. Carrouges had accused Le Gris of raping his wife Marguerite de Carrouges, née de Thibouville, that previous January, and had gone to King Charles VI seeking an appeal to the decision handed down by Count Pierre d’Alençon, whom Carrouges believed favored Le Gris. Whichever combatant still alive at the end of the duel would be declared the winner as a sign of God’s will. If Jean de Carrouges lost the duel, Marguerite de Carrouges would be burned at the stake as punishment for her false accusation. Le Gris died.

Anyway,  This was first broadcast on 23 Apr 2008 and last broadcast on 30 Sep 2010.

So, if the programming gods are wondering what to rerun: I vote for this.

BBC and its rerun policy

Not sure why the BBC isn’t rerunning Banksy’s Alternativity this year. Also annoyed that it is not available to watch online. I am tempted to post it on Youtube just to get it back out there since it needs to be SEEN.

On the other hand, if the BBC programming folk are interested in a suggestion for a rerun: The Last Duel has my vote. It was first broadcast in 2008. The last broadcast was in 2010. They have been rerunning a lot of things, but this one has been missed. It’s based on Eric Jager’s book, The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial by Combat in Medieval France.

BBC’s description of the programme is:

Drama-documentary telling the story of one of the last trials by battle to be fought in Europe, a tale of sex, brutality and political machination set in 14th century medieval France.

A knight, Sir Jean de Carrouges, accuses his former best friend, Jacques Le Gris, of raping his wife Marguerite. Unable to obtain justice from his feudal overlord, Carrouges appeals to the king for the ancient right to fight a duel to the death to find out God’s truth. There is much at stake. If Carrouges dies in the battle, Marguerite will also be burned to death as a liar.

This tense story, told from records of the day, is set against the backdrop of the 100 years war between England and France, 14th century attitudes towards women, crime and punishment and the political intrigues of the feudal system.

While I wouldn’t mind either being rerun, the Last Duel definitely has my vote.

As for Banksy’s Alternativity: I’m surprised he hasn’t posted it on Youtube. If Banksy or any of his minions see this and tell me it’s OK to post it, I will.

The Being Human Pilot and Idiotic BBC policies

I think I mentioned before that the BBC has never officially rereleased the Being Human pilot, despite the show’s gaining enough of a cult status enough to have a US remake and lasting five seasons.  This gets into their rerun policies which can also be fickle.  And as someone who seriously pondered applying for the BBC DG position, I know there is a fuck of a lot of politics at the place, but somehow there must be a way to cut through it.

Especially given their tendency for whining about how broke they are whilst sitting on a treasure trove of material.  well, what they didn’t trash prior to the 1970s and didn’t get saved by someone else.

In this case, they never put the series pilot on the DVDs, which is a shame.  Not that I’ve seen the pilot.

Yet.

As with most BBC material, you can find a copy of it if you dig around.  In this case, there are a few copies floating about online and I hope to watch a high definition one tonight.  Of course, the Beeb could have done this.  for all I know, there might be some political reason for it not doing so.

After all, the person who DID get the DG’s position lasted about 4 months grace a le Jimmy Saville Scandal.  I understand that the job is a shark pool of politics.  On the other hand, I’ve had years of dealing with the Greater North American Gun Loon.

More on BBC repeats

I was a little rushed after WordPress trashed my last post on this topic: As if we didn’t know this already….  I should have made it clear that I am a little less bothered by this policy;  especially, if the the scheduling deities repeat things which are worth repeating.  I would love to see the Last Duel again (hint! hint!).

Seriously, there are some serious treasures in the BBC archives which could do with being rerun besides Dad’s Army and the Good Life.  And they can always dredge up things like Bergerac if they want to waste broadcasting.  I could also go off and the stuff which was lost due to the idiotic policy of wiping the tapes, but have done that more than enough.

As if we didn’t know this already…

Or the licence fee dodgers are correct when they complain about repeats on the Beeb.

According to the Radio Times, a Freedom of Information request has revealed that almost two thirds of BBC programmes aired last year were repeats. an average of 63% of programmes broadcast across the BBC channels (BBC1, BBC2, BBC3 and BBC4) during 2012 had already been aired. BBC3 was arguably the worst offender with 3,196 (85%) of its programmes coming from repeats. BBC1 transmitted 2,793 repeat programmes in the period, around a third of its output. 4,423 BBC2 shows were repeats. BBC4 had already shown 2,604 hours, or 78% of its output.

The BBC’s statement regarding reruns said: “Repeats on the BBC are carefully scheduled to reach different audiences. On BBC2, many of its repeats are of classic shows. For example, we have recently shown Dad’s Army and The Good Life, chosen to offer viewers an alternative to what the other channels are showing.”

I noticed they recently reran I, Claudius, which gets to my gripe that there are a lot of classic programmes in their archives which they don’t use: e.g., Take Three Girls and The Borderers. I should add that I’ve also been watching classics such as The Six Wives of Henry VIII and Shadow of the Tower which are both contemporary to the Borderers, yet they are complete and available on DVD.  Not sure how some series can exist fairly completely, yet others do not.  I know that sometimes this is due to the tapes being broadcast in other countries.

Anyway, it seems that some good new material is in the pipeline with Professor Mary Beard presenting a documentary on Caligula.   I’ve got to admit that I find Prof. Beard kind of hot in a sapiosexual way which means that this sounds seriously promising.  I need to rewatch the Pompeii documentary, but I remember another of her documentaries on the Romans which she truly demonstrated a love of the topic.  Although she joked to the audience at the Telegraph Hay Festival that “no one, but no one can tweet this, otherwise I will get into such trouble”.

Really now…

Anyway, it’s far too late for regrets now–I’m prepped for some serious intellectual porn!

See also: Hay Festival 2013: Mary Beard making Caligula documentary

Yes, the BBC can produce some real rubbish.

I can’t really say that Bluestone 42 was a disappointment since I was prepared for the worst when I heard that the people who wrote Miranda also came up with this show.  And, like Miranda, Bluestone 42 really wants you to like it.  Unlike Miranda, it’s not really likeable.  In fact, it probably has the worst clichés of British Television and maybe even military service.

Let’s start with a woman soldier named “Bird”.  I think that sums up the humour of the show.  The show got old–FAST.  I couldn’t make it through the entire second episode and skipped through it on iPlayer.

I’m not sure how long this will last since Being Human managed to make it to five series.  I fear the worst.

So, British TV can come up with some really good material, but it can also make some serious crap.

Sort of changing the topic, I found a book called A Concise History of British Television 1930–2000 by Tony Currie (Kelly Publications, ISBN 1-903053-17-X). I can’t imagine it being very thick given the Beeb’s archival policies. Yes, I am upset that shows such as  The Borderers were trashed by the old archival policies amongst other things (lots of repeats of nothing I really want to see).

Wherever you are: you’re with the BBC (Part IV)

At this point, I’m going to try to tie together the thoughts I’ve mentioned in the previous three posts to try and come up with a coherent whole.

1) The BBC is a public broadcasting service

The major problem with this one is who exactly is the public and who exactly funds it. The BBC has a split personality between the internal services and the World Service. Not to mention that Britons can be found throughout the world (ex-Pats)

2) How does one fund such a being?

Is it truly fair for the British people to be the only ones expected to pay for this service? Why can’t external users contribute as well? Do you need need to use TV Detector Vans?

3) Can the BBC management deal with reality?
I know one of the higher ups has also suggested charging for iPlayer use, but I can’t find the citation in my posts. On the other hand, it is mentioned quite a bit as a possibility

There are major  problems with requiring people to either have licences and use iPlayer–the main one being that most people have already paid the licence fee.  There is a small subset of people are able to get away without having a licence yet still sble to use the iPlayer service.

I could reinvent the wheel, but this is a very good post by Paul Sawers  on why people should pay the licence fee:
thenextweb.com/uk/2012/01/21/theres-no-i-in-iplayer-heres-why-the-tv-licence-fee-must-be-preserved-in-the-uk/

In fact, that is pretty much my position on why the fee should be paid.  I use the service and I want to contribute.

Paul did neglect that the licence fee is also supposed to be fair.  There are methods by which one can be exempted from paying the fee.  Not to mention, there are reduced fees and exemptions (e.g., a 50% reduction on the TV Licence fee if you’re blind/severely sight impaired and Second homes).  And you can’t just pay money to the BBC because you really like their programmes since that money is supposed to come from the licence fee. So, that rules out somebody paying MORE for the service than they have to–that drives the Beeb even nuttier than trying to get a licence for a non-existent address!

Ultimately,  The BBC is a British institution, paid for by the British Public.  It is responsive to its public (well, to some extent).  The British Public should respect it as much as it does government.

To quote Paul Sawers:

But unlike Virgin, Sky, Netflix and such like, nobody has a choice of whether they pay for a TV licence or not. You may never actively watch a BBC programme or visit its website, but you’re sure as hell paying for it if you want to stay on the right side of the law. Even for those that do enjoy BBC content, the ‘lack of choice’ element to the licence fee still gets some people riled.

But here’s the thing. If you were to give people a choice, many would choose not to pay for it and the BBC as we know it would crumble. However, it’s a public service, just as the NHS, police force and fire brigade are, and it should be preserved.

Nothing grates me more than when someone complains about having to pay taxes for services they never use. Speaking to Q magazine last year, superstar singer Adele said:

“I’m mortified to have to pay 50%! [While] I use the NHS, I can’t use public transport any more. Trains are always late, most state schools are shit, and I’ve gotta give you, like, four million quid – are you having a laugh? When I got my tax bill in from [the album] 19, I was ready to go and buy a gun and randomly open fire.”

There are way too many ‘I’ and ‘my’ references in there. So Adele is rich and doesn’t want to pay for things she doesn’t use? My heart bleeds. The scourge of individualism is growing, and this ‘pull the ladder up and screw the rest’ culture is such a bad omen for society. It’s indicative of a much deeper problem, where people care more about themselves than the success of ‘society’.

Just because the BBC deals in news, entertainment, information and education doesn’t make it any less vital for UK society than a health service. And just because YOU don’t see the value in it doesn’t mean we should scrap it.

And Paul is correct when he points out how little the licence costs in relation to other things.  If one considers that one can see a play, opera, ballet, film, and so on–especially a Covent Garden one as part of this service, it is a bargain.  Paul and I are in complete agreement when he says:

But the underlying philosophy (at the BBC) is a sound one – an ad-free public service broadcaster that EVERYONE pays for. That must be preserved, and the UK would be much worse off without it.

Now, my proposal is to stop with the threats and get down to what the BBC is supposed to do: educate. Educate the public as to what an important institution the BBC is to British Culture. Point out that cooperation is what makes Britain work.

Even better yet, show what it’s like in other countries where Public Broadcasting is whining about the lack of support. And the rampant commercialism which one sees in US broadcasting (even the public sector).

As Paul says, But over and above all this, the BBC offers everyone a little respite from the commercially-driven media that permeates every nook and cranny around the world. In the UK, the BBC is an ad-free zone, and it must remain so.

I couldn’t agree more.