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BBC Culture did something pretty fun today, as they released their list of the 100 Greatest American Films, as determined by a poll of 62 international film critics.
How did they define what made an “American film”? If it got its funding from an American source, it was eligible to be selected.
Here’s the full, very Billy Wilder-heavy, list:
100. Ace in the Hole (Billy Wilder, 1951)
99. 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)
98. Heaven’s Gate (Michael Cimino, 1980)
97. Gone With the Wind (Victor Fleming, 1939)
96. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)
95. Duck Soup (Leo McCarey, 1933)
94. 25th Hour (Spike Lee, 2002)
93. Mean Streets (Martin Scorsese, 1973)
92. The Night of the Hunter (Charles Laughton, 1955)
91. ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (Steven Spielberg, 1982)
90. Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)
89. In a Lonely Place (Nicholas Ray, 1950)
88. West Side Story (Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins, 1961)
87. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)
86. The Lion King (Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, 1994)
85. Night of the Living Dead (George A Romero, 1968)
84. Deliverance (John Boorman, 1972)
83. Bringing Up Baby (Howard Hawks, 1938)
82. Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981)
81. Thelma & Louise (Ridley Scott, 1991)
80. Meet Me in St Louis (Vincente Minnelli, 1944)
79. The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011)
78. Schindler’s List (Steven Spielberg, 1993)
77. Stagecoach (John Ford, 1939)
76. The Empire Strikes Back (Irvin Kershner, 1980)
75. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Steven Spielberg, 1977)
74. Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis, 1994)
73. Network (Sidney Lumet, 1976)
72. The Shanghai Gesture (Josef von Sternberg, 1941)
71. Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993)
70. The Band Wagon (Vincente Minnelli, 1953)
69. Koyaanisqatsi (Godfrey Reggio, 1982)
68. Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946)
67. Modern Times (Charlie Chaplin, 1936)
66. Red River (Howard Hawks, 1948)
65. The Right Stuff (Philip Kaufman, 1965)
64. Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray, 1954)
63. Love Streams (John Cassavetes, 1984)
62. The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)
61. Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick, 1999)
60. Blue Velvet (David Lynch, 1986)
59. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Miloš Forman, 1975)
58. The Shop Around the Corner (Ernst Lubitsch, 1940)
57. Crimes and Misdemeanors (Woody Allen, 1989)
56. Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis, 1985)
55. The Graduate (Mike Nichols, 1967)
54. Sunset Boulevard (Billy Wilder, 1950)
53. Grey Gardens (Albert and David Maysles, Ellen Hovde and Muffie Meyer, 1975)
52. The Wild Bunch (Sam Peckinpah, 1969)
51. Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958)
50. His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, 1940)
49. Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick, 1978)
48. A Place in the Sun (George Stevens, 1951)
47. Marnie (Alfred Hitchcock, 1964)
46. It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946)
45. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford, 1962)
44. Sherlock Jr (Buster Keaton, 1924)
43. Letter from an Unknown Woman (Max Ophüls, 1948)
42. Dr Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick, 1964)
41. Rio Bravo (Howard Hawks, 1959)
40. Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid, 1943)
39. The Birth of a Nation (DW Griffith, 1915)
38. Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975)
37. Imitation of Life (Douglas Sirk, 1959)
36. Star Wars (George Lucas, 1977)
35. Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder, 1944)
34. The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939)
33. The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
32. The Lady Eve (Preston Sturges, 1941)
31. A Woman Under the Influence (John Cassavetes, 1974)
30. Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959)
29. Raging Bull (Martin Scorsese, 1980)
28. Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, 1994)
27. Barry Lyndon (Stanley Kubrick, 1975)
26. Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett, 1978)
25. Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989)
24. The Apartment (Billy Wilder, 1960)
23. Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1977)
22. Greed (Erich von Stroheim, 1924)
21. Mulholland Drive (David Lynch, 2001)
20. Goodfellas (Martin Scorsese, 1990)
19. Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976)
18. City Lights (Charlie Chaplin, 1931)
17. The Gold Rush (Charlie Chaplin, 1925)
16. McCabe & Mrs Miller (Robert Altman, 1971)
15. The Best Years of Our Lives (William Wyler, 1946)
14. Nashville (Robert Altman, 1975)
13. North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)
12. Chinatown (Roman Polanski, 1974)
11. The Magnificent Ambersons (Orson Welles, 1942)
10. The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)
9. Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942)
8. Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)
7. Singin’ in the Rain (Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, 1952)
6. Sunrise (FW Murnau, 1927)
5. The Searchers (John Ford, 1956)
4. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)
3. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)
2. The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972)
1. Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941)
No Coen Bros? No Paul Thomas Anderson? No Wes Anderson? Egad! I will say that I applaud any list that tosses Citizen Kane back in its rightful spot at the top. Back when Sight and Sound did their poll a few years back, Vertigo had crept over Welles’ masterpiece. I love them both, but the greatness of Citizen Kane is indisputable, particularly when you compare it to other, stagier, classics of the same era.
But, to not bury the lede as it concerns the interests of The Beat, The Dark Knight is the only comics based film to make the cut. An interesting choice, and for my money it’s easily the best superhero film (any capes and tights offering that takes a visual page out of Michael Mann has a little more going for it than, say, your average X-Men movie), but is it one of the Top 100 American Films of All Time? I don’t even think it’s Christopher Nolan‘s best film, so probably not. But, it’s nice to see our favorite medium get a little bit of respect in this part of the critical community.
I’d have replaced it with American Splendor myself.
Many of the fans packed into Hall H on Thursday waited overnight on the street outside of the San Diego Convention Center for their chance to catch Peter Capaldi’s first appearance at SDCC since becoming the Twelfth Doctor on Doctor Who. Capaldi himself had visited the line for Hall H earlier in the day, embodying the goodwill actors portraying the Doctor have shown fans going all the way back to the classic series era.
Headoverfeels.com creators and editors Sage Young and Kim Rogers held their spots in line for 21 hours, with only one break to rest at a nearby friend’s house. “We had an amazing time,” Rogers said of the nearly day-long experience, “we thought it would be miserable but it was a gorgeous day. We had food, we had friends, and we knew we would have an amazing seat.” The pair ended up being some of the first 100 people let into the massive 6,500 seat hall.
If the fans were tired from their line-waiting experience, their enthusiasm was undimmed as Capaldi took the stage with co-stars Jenna Coleman and Michelle Gomez, who portray the Doctor’s companion Clara and long-time nemesis The Master respectively. The stars were joined on the panel by showrunner and long-time Whovian Steven Moffat. Chris Hardwick of The Nerdist and Talking Dead moderated the hour-long discussion.
Hardwick kicked things off by commenting on Capaldi’s take on the Doctor’s newest regeneration, saying: “I love that you’re kind of cranky and intense.”
Capaldi replied: “I think he [Steven Moffat] just saw those qualities in me, and just cast me.”
For his part, Moffat explained that writing for the different Doctors wasn’t what made them unique, saying: “On paper the Doctors are actually quite similar, it’s what the actors bring to it.”
Putting on the mantle of a character that’s over 50 years old is no simple task. “Did you feel the weight of Who immediately?” asked Hardwick of Capaldi, who is still in the midst of filming the show’s ninth season.
“It’s in my bones, it’s the only show I’ve followed since I was six years old,” said Capaldi, who then referenced his first appearance on the BBC series in the rebooted fourth season. “I thought that would be the only time of being in Doctor Who.” He then related how excited he was to be on set while David Tennant was playing the part of the Doctor’s Tenth incarnation, asking: “‘David! David! where’s the TARDIS?’ I got quite teary.”
Coleman revealed that her character, Clara Oswald, companion to both the Eleventh and and Twelfth Doctors, “has a rule that that she gets dropped off 30 seconds before she left. I think she’s a bit of a control freak.” Coleman then added that “This series she’s more head first into the TARDIS,” and would be spending more time on-board the Time Lord’s time-traveling spaceship.
Following “Death in Heaven,” the finale episode of season 8 which saw Gomez’s character seemingly de-materialized in the final moments of the show, there was much in the way of fan-speculation that we hadn’t seen the last of The Master’s game-changing female regeneration known as Missy. Her appearance on the panel confirmed the theories correct.
When Hardwick asked Gomez’s approach to playing Missy, she replied: “Luckily I never know why I’m saying what I’m saying…the writing is all there for me. It’s just a thrill to turn up and get this opportunity to be The Master, it’s still ‘pinch me?’” Gomez further explained her take on the long-running character, saying: “I think he or she or it is the best friend you love to hate…the rules don’t apply to her and that makes her really fun to play.”
Moffat agreed with Gomez’s assessment of the Doctor/Master relationship: “They are friends, which is terrifying. It’s like a friendship between a vegetarian and a hunter.”
Gomez added: “It’s this great friendship that just went wrong. And we’ve all had those…and you’re trying to get in the way of me destroying the universe,” she said, looking to Capaldi, “which I have to do! We both kill a lot of people, he feels bad about it, I don’t.”
Capaldi expounded on his feelings regarding the character of the Doctor: “ I think he doesn’t know who he is, he’s always scrambling around trying to figure out who he is…he’s a constantly growing character.” Echoing a debate his Doctor has with Clara’s love interest Danny over his military past, Capaldi continued: “He’s not a soldier. He’d rather sit at night in a car park looking at the stars than be blowing up Daleks,” before adding: “I like blowing up Dalek’s.”
Though Capaldi felt his Doctor was still mostly a “bohemian/philosopher/rebel time lord,” Coleman was asked about her character’s trouble with the transition of the Eleventh into the Twelfth Doctor.
“She was familiar with how it was working,” said Coleman, “then suddenly your best friend changes his face and who knows what to trust anymore? It’s changing all the rules basically.”
Hardwick inquired after the health of Twelve and Clara’s relationship, asking: “Are they okay now?”
Coleman felt they were, saying: “They’ve found their groove, eating up all of time and space with reckless abandon.”
A never-before seen trailer for Doctor Who’s upcoming ninth season was then shown, which announced the return date of the series as September 19th and ended with a shot of highly publicized guest star Maisie Williams squaring off with Capaldi’s Doctor. The Doctor clearly recognizes Williams’ mysterious character, saying, “You?”
To which Williams replies: “What took you so long, old man?”
When the lights came back up, Moffat explained he could say no more about the episodes featuring the actress, best known for her work on Game of Thrones as fan-favorite character Arya Stark.
Capaldi told the crowd about the first moment he felt he was really the Doctor: “I think it’s when they threw a rubber spider in my face and said: ‘fight it!’ I said, it doesn’t work, where’s the operator? And they said: ‘there is no operator, it’s just a big rubber spider. Fight it!’”
Coleman was asked about her character’s difficulty in returning to a normal life after adventures on the TARDIS, to which she answered: “I think it becomes addictive and I think that’s the problem.”
Pondering the fact of the TARDIS’ “bigger on the inside” feature, Moffat said “I used to wonder why the Doctor didn’t use that more? ‘Don’t believe I’m an alien? Look at that!’” When the crowd didn’t react, he continued: “I guess that was just me, then. My Mom was right I should have got a girlfriend instead. Applause for my imaginary girlfriend!” The crowd offered some, and over the sound of the clapping Moffat teased: “Virginity kept me pure.”
The Doctor, for all his humanity, often fails to understand human nature. This seems particularly true of Capaldi’s incarnation, with Coleman commenting: “Clara teaches him how to interact with humans more this season…helps him with his social skills, makes him more of a welcome party guest.”
Speaking again of the Doctor/Master relationship, Moffat said: “This is not new, the Doctor and the master being friends.” He explained he recently went back and viewed “the Delgado and Pertwee episodes.” Said Moffat: “One of them wants to blow up the world the other one wants to stop it, but they don’t let a little thing like that get in the way.”
When the panel opened up to questions from the audience, one came from a young boy who thanked the panel for helping him with his “Make-a-wish.” Moffat seemed visibly moved in recognizing the child, who asked what Capaldi felt was iconic about this Doctor.
Capaldi answered: “Eyebrows.”
Hardwick extended the question to the other actors on the panel, and when Coleman balked at answering, Moffat chimed in with: “Eyes, huge eyes!”
Gomez added “Lips. Obviously.” She then talked of her kiss with the Doctor in episode 11 of last season, asking fans to decide who was kissing who, saying that if they watched it back again: “Peter is — there’s some suction there…what you couldn’t see was I was also holding Clara’s hand.”
“That’s hot!” a fan cried loudly from the audience.
Another fan asked of Moffat what literature he drew most from for inspiration. Moffat answered: “Doctor Who is what made me wanted to be a writer…. I was so inspired by Doctor Who.“He added: “Every screenplay William Goldman has written is great, and if you want to know about comedy writing read Neil Simon.” He later added: “For the record, I do anything for a laugh, I’m a tart.”
When the panel was asked to describe their character’s perfect day, Gomez replied she thought Missy would start her day with a croissant and some tea before saying: “And then slapping Wonder Woman in the face.”
One of the final questions asked if the panel had any advice for aspiring actors. Gomez said: “My agent calls me the roach because I keep getting squashed like a bug and coming back,” before encouraging the audience: “just never give up. This world is abundant, there’s enough for everyone.”
As the panel drew to a close, Capaldi reflected on his first SDCC experience: “To come here and find this warmth and affection for something I’ve been following since childhood is extraordinary….I feel the warmth of the full 50 years pointed right at me.”
Hardwick closed the proceedings by showing a trailer for the recently announced Lego: Dimensions video game featuring a Lego version of Capaldi’s Doctor interacting with Lego Batman and character’s from the Oscar nominated The Lego Movie. Hardwick also announced that his Nerdist network would be broadcasting a TV special titled Doctor’s Finest on August 15th, showcasing the Nerdist’s top 8 favorite episodes of Doctor Who hosted by Youtuber Hannah Hart.
In celebration of The BBC Proms 120th anniversary we have created a comprehensive reading list of books, journals, and online resources that celebrate the eight- week British summer season of orchestral music, live performances, and late-night music and poetry.
The Reith lectures were inaugurated in 1948 by the BBC to celebrate and commemorate Lord Reith’s major contribution to British broadcasting. Many distinguished names are to be found in the alumni of lecturers, whose origins are not confined to this sceptred isle in which the concept of these educational thought provoking radio talks were conceived.
Doctor Who is here to stay…at least for the next five years. Whovians around the world have reason to celebrate today, as the BBC reported executive producer Steven Moffat’s comments to Doctor Who Magazine that the rebooted series would do a “minimum of 15 years” in total. Ben Stephenson, BBC’s outgoing head of drama commissioning was even more optimistic, saying: “As long as the people looking after it are passionate about it… there’s absolutely no reason why it can’t do another 50 years.” This announcement comes on the heels of the new series’ 10 year anniversary, celebrated by fans across the world. The show’s popularity has led even mainstream outlets like MTV News to cover the anniversary, ranking the modern episodes in order of quality.
When the modern version of the series went on the air in 2005, Doctor Who was largely unknown to mainstream America. The adventures of the time-traveling, two-hearted alien known only as “The Doctor” were confined to PBS rebroadcasts of the original or “Classic” series, which was produced by the BBC from 1963-1989. Low production values and the show’s undeniable Britishness were barriers to crossover success in the States, though a cult following developed among science fiction fans who grew up watching the series.
That all changed in 2010 when BBC America licensed the show for broadcast in the United States. Instead of waiting months for rebroadcasts of episodes, they now waited weeks. Perhaps there is no better bellwether of the shows immense Stateside popularity than the town of Denton, TX. Local comic book store retailer Tim Stoltzfus of More Fun Comics lobbied to nab an exclusive cover and won. Titan Comics released 29 variant covers for Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor Issue 1 and among them was a cover featuring the TARDIS parked outside the Denton County Courthouse.
Local Denton artist Jake Ekiss drew the exclusive cover.
The recognition drew the attention of Denton Mayor Chris Watts, who drew up a proclamation declaring April 4, 2015 “Dr. Who Day” in Denton. Local Whovians attended a reading of the proclamation in front of the courthouse where local a local cosplay group erected a TARDIS prop. Brothers Travis and Tom Huston attended the ceremony, dressed as the Eleventh and Tenth Doctors, respectively. Tom, 12, liked seeing “so many Whovians,” while Travis, 9, said: “there aren’t many great shows on like it, our whole family watches it together.” Both brothers agreed it was “really awesome that our courthouse is on the cover.”
Geronimo and Allons-y! The Huston brothers dressed as their favorite Doctors: Travis, age 9, as Eleven and Tom, age 12, as Ten. Photo by Cristy Flowers Huston.
Likely the Houston brothers are among the fans excited for the upcoming three Doctor issue to be released on May 2nd, Free Comic Book Day. Check out the cover and preview pages below:
The news this week that Jeremy Clarkson’s contract with the BBC will not be renewed might be bad news for Top Gear fans but could it be good news for politics? Probably not... I wonder what Jeremy Clarkson is up to as you read this blog.
कुछ दिनों पहले INDIA”s DAUGHTER देखी थी..पूरी तो नही देख पाई पर जितनी देखी उसमे निर्भया का दोस्त जोकि उसके साथ बस मे सवार था उसके बारे मे कुछ नही देखा. मन में विचार आया कि शायद डोक्यूमैंटरी के आखिरी मे उसका बाईट होगा.पर कल नेट पर सर्च करते हुए उसी Avanindra Pandey जोकि बस … Continue reading INDIA”s DAUGHTER
Where is your favourite place in Scotland? What makes it special to you?
Scottish Book Trust and BBC Scotland want you to write about your favourite place in Scotland, whether it's a remote beauty spot or an urban hideaway, a famous landmark or a favourite cafe. Did you holiday there? Is it the place you got married? We want to get Scotland writing, inspired by our country's best-loved places.
Write a story, poem, song lyric, diary entry, letter or sketch about your favourite place, submit it on our website and your story could be appear in a book or be broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland!
My Favourite Place in Scotland will run from 19th March to 21st August 2012, and in that time Scottish Book Trust wants to involve everyone in Scotland in building a written picture of Scotland's best-loved places.
Submissions should be made to the Scottish Book Trust website and can be written in a huge variety of different forms, such as a story, poem, song lyrics, a short play or sketch, a letter or even diary entry.
Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, said: "Exploring some of Scotland's wilder places has meant a huge amount to me over the years. Scotland holds some of the most magnificent landscapes in the world. My own submission is about my favourite fishing spot, a magnificent sea loch on Lewis. But equally, one might pick an urban hideaway, a famous landmark, or a favourite café or park as the place to write about, because Scotland is a country of great variety, interest and charm.
"My Favourite Place is about channeling the inspiration Scotland gives to its people into a written tribute to its treasures, both known and unknown. We are proud to give a platform to this celebration of Scotland through writing."
A fresh famine is threatening Africa, this time in the semi-desert Sahel region of Francophone West Africa. The greatest concern is Niger where a third of the population cannot be sure they will be able to feed themselves or even be fed over the next few months. In the region as a whole there are some ten million people at risk.
The process by which the world has learned of this crisis is familiar. The big relief agencies are allied with the broadcasters, notably the BBC, to report on the growing hunger. This publicity puts pressure on official western aid donors, governments and others, to make sure that threats of mass starvation do not turn into catastrophic reality. Relief agencies add to the pressure by reminding donors that delays to similar East African alerts last year may have contributed to upwards of 50,000 deaths in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia.
As a means of raising the profile of hunger emergencies, the media-aid agency connection has been a familiar pattern for decades. It is underpinned by increasingly sophisticated international early warning systems that monitor rainfall and cropping, and predict with accuracy the human consequences of drought and poor harvests. All but the most negligent governments in Africa take their responsibilities more seriously than they did, and mobilise local resources alongside the international efforts. The result is that the world should never again witness suffering on the scale seen in Ethiopia in the mid-1980s where 600,000 died of starvation and a new era in the aid relationship was born.
For the past quarter century, the rich North has not been allowed to forget the poor South. As western economies boomed, money flowed into the official and private aid agencies and flowed out again to the Third World. It was a movement that reached its high point in 2005 with the Gleneagles summit, Bob Geldof’s Live 8 and Make Poverty History. Yet there has been no reduction in the number of hungry people in the world; the reverse, in fact — the number has grown and major food emergencies persist.
The worst of them are those exacerbated by conflict. Fighting hampers relief and restricts the media from detailed reporting on the ground. The epicentre of last year’s East African famine was Somalia whose people have been the victims of chronic political instability for the past 20 years and where the militant Islamist group al-Shabab crudely prevented relief from reaching the starving under its control. In neighbouring Ethiopia, the worst of the suffering last year was in the border Somali region where central government faces an armed revolt — just as happened in the North of the country in the 1980s — and across the continent in Niger the current crisis is made worse by an influx of refugees from insurgencies in Nigeria and Mali.
If the world is getting better at managing the effects of extreme poverty, it is simultaneously failing to make poverty history. After more than half a century of application, the promised transformative effects of aid in the poor world have yet to be realised. Major western economies are now losing ground to new powers in the East, and with it the chance to direct the development effort in future. Western aid agencies have concentrated their efforts on health, education and welfare, yet all the new signs of African prosperity are to be found in home-grown entrepreneurship, in a growing middl
Haruki Murakami holds the titles of both the most popular novelist in Japan and the most popular Japanese novelist in the wider world. After publishing Norwegian Wood in 1987, a book often called “the Japanese Catcher in the Rye,” Murakami’s notoriety exploded to such an extent that he felt forced out of his homeland, a country whose traditional ways and — to his mind — conformist mindset never sat right with him in the first place. [. . .]
Rupert Edwards’ camera follows veteran presenter Alan Yentob through Japan, from the midnight Tokyo of After Hours to the snowed-in Hokkaido of A Wild Sheep Chase, in a quest to find artifacts of the supremely famous yet media-shy novelist’s imaginary world. Built around interviews with fans and translators but thick with such Murakamiana as laid-back jazz standards, grim school hallways, sixties pop hits, women’s ears, vinyl records, marathon runners, and talking cats, the broadcast strives less to explain Murakami’s substance than to simply reflect it. If you find your curiosity piqued by all the fuss over 1Q84, Murakami’s latest, you might watch it as something of an aesthetic primer.
There I said it. And I'm prepared to face accusations of a lack of patriotism or, worse, elitism.
Part of it is the cultural distance: it's easier to believe people across the pond are like the ones I see in the programs because I don't rub shoulders with many counter-examples. Cultural distance is, however, even more important on a structural level. The British programming with which I'm most familiar has come through the good offices of various PBS stations, who presumably have selected from among the best programs.
I also confess a weakness for the language. Between the accents and the slang, viewing British comedies is a more engaging experience because it requires effort on my part to follow along. Their writers seem to have a particular gift for articulate, literate, sarcasm.
But I think the most important reason is the format. Thanks to the commercial interruption, American sitcoms have two acts, where their British counterparts have only a single, longer act.
In addition to forcing the story into two acts, the American format requires the first act to end on a strong enough note to keep the viewer's interest during the commercials. Then the second act must bring down the tension in order to have enough runway to build to the climax of the story. In other words, the story has to have two high points: a false climax at the end of the first act and the narrative climax at the end of the second.
In contrast, British sitcoms can spend the entire half-hour developing the characters and building the narrative tension toward a natural (in the sense of having only one climax) resolution.
This is why there's some truth to the generalization that British comedies are driven by character, while American comedies are driven by caricature.
Of course my point here is not to argue for English superiority but to show how structure effects storytelling.
If you haven't seen any British sitcoms, you owe it to yourself as a writer to compare and contrast. It's an eye-opening exercise.
BBC Documentary on Mosi-oa-Tunya, the Victoria Falls, in Zambia. Some incredible footage of the mighty Zambezi River accompanied by the story of those whose homes are near its banks and who depend on it for their livelihood.
As a regional businessman and a fledgling band manager, Brian Epstein presumed that the Beatles’ record company (EMI’s Parlophone) and Lennon and McCartney’s publisher (Ardmore and Beechwood) would support the record. This presumption would prove false, however, and Epstein would need to draw on all of the resources he could spare if he were to make the disc a success. He began with what he knew from the retail end of the industry and commenced rallying Liverpudlians to write letters to both Radio Luxembourg and the BBC asking them to play “Love Me Do.”
Just as the stations XERF (in Ciudad Acuña, Mexico) and CKLW (in Windsor, Ontario, Canada) were able to broadcast deep into the United States with transmitters many times more powerful than FCC-regulated American stations, a station in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg carpeted most of Western Europe. Perhaps surprisingly, Radio Luxembourg (broadcast in the Medium Wave band) was British-owned and its English-language service became a primary outlet for UK businesses whose advertising the BBC declined. (The BBC refused to broadcast anything that suggested product promotion.) Radio Luxembourg suffered its sometimes-scratchy signal; but British listeners tuned in every night to embrace the pop music that Aunty Beeb would not play.
Expo 1958 Radio Luxembourg by Wouter Hagens. Creative Commons License.
British corporations like EMI and London music publishers like Essex Music directly controlled much of the station’s airtime by buying broadcast blocks during which they played pre-recorded programs. Indeed, on Monday 8 October 1962, the Beatles taped an interview at EMI’s headquarters in London, which Radio Luxembourg broadcast along with their recording of “Love Me Do” on Friday 12 October. (George Harrison later recalled the thrill of first hearing himself on that radio broadcast.) The Liverpool letters solicited by Epstein that arrived in Luxembourg eventually arrived at EMI in London where the manager hoped they would catch corporate attention and result in better domestic support for the Beatles and their releases.
Tony Barrow, whom Epstein had originally contacted at Decca Records in his quest to get the Beatles a recording contract, began work for NEMS (North End Music Stores) as the Beatles’ publicist. (He could hardly have imagined how his job description would evolve from soliciting the press’s attention to holding them at arm’s length.) As a reviewer and a liner-note writer, Barrow had often worked from press materials prepared by agents and managers. These releases could vary significantly in kind and quality, but among them, Barrow thought that the press kits from Leslie Perrin’s office (which had represented London’s infamous Raymond’s Revue Bar, among others) were particularly effective. Notably, a color-coded press kit walked readers through a client’s story, which made a reviewer’s tasks easier. Barrow appropriated this format in his preparations for promoting the Beatles.
The role of the press agent involved finding the right people to contact and, for that, Barrow needed names, addresses, and phone numbers. Coincidentally, he knew someone who had recently left Decca’s press office. The Beatles’ new agent presumed that the individual would have taken a copy of the company’s mailing list and, after a casual meal, they reached a mutually beneficial agreement. Brian Epstein’s new part-time press manager walked away with a cache of contacts.
Barrow began by introducing the Beatles to London’s music press, escorting the Liverpudlians from the Denmark Street offices of New Musical Express to Fleet Street’s Melody Maker. They were willing to go almost anywhere to meet anyone with access to print or broadcast media. For example, on 9 October 1962 (the day after taping the Radio Luxembourg program), they visited the offices of Record Mirror so that writers there could see how different they were from other entertainers and to hopefully experience some of the charm that had swayed George Martin.
The mixed results both encouraged the band and its manager, and disappointed them. Alan Smith, writing in the New Musical Express (26 October 1962), briefly introduced the band, highlighting how Lennon and McCartney had written their “hit.” However, if you were the Beatles searching the papers for even the briefest mention (which they did weekly), you found little.
Brian Epstein in a 1967 interview would justifiably take credit for some of the band’s early success, citing his diligence and perseverance. The slow climb of “Love Me Do” up the charts would be his vindication. By December 1962, despite setbacks, the single increased sales and nudged into the top twenty on the most respected (if selectively read) chart. They were poised for something and they were sure ‘twas for success.
The series features the adventures of the Squirrel Club, an adorable menagerie of animals who are awarded badges after completing activities assigned to them by their club leader Chop Chop. According to Broadcast, the series is one of the first to receive tax break certification from the British Film Institute since the Department for Culture, Media & Sport approved animated programs for financial relief in April.
While Studio AKA’s top-tier client list, which includes work for children’s brands like Disney and Cartoon Network among companies like Lloyds TSB, BMW, Skype and BBC, Chop Chop! will be its first major contribution to children’s programming. The series producers are Sue Goffe and Janine Murphy, and executive produced Henrietta Hurford-Jones (BBC Worldwide director of children’s) and Jackie Edwards (executive producer, animation and acquisitions, CBeebies UK).
Television execs seems to be stuck in a neverending nostalgia loop. In just the past week, reboots or spinoffs have been announced for "The Lion King," "The Magic School Bus," "The Powerpuff Girls"...and now, "Danger Mouse." The iconic U.K. cartoon series, which was produced by British studio Cosgrove Hall from 1981 to 1992, is returning to the small screen next year with 52 eleven-minute episodes.
The anniversaries of conflicts seem to be more likely to capture the public’s attention than any other significant commemorations. When I first began researching the nurses of the First World War in 2004, I was vaguely aware of an increase in media attention: now, ten years on, as my third book leaves the press, I find myself astonished by the level of interest in the subject. The Centenary of the First World War is becoming a significant cultural event. This time, though, much of the attention is focussed on the role of women, and, in particular, of nurses. The recent publication of several nurses’ diaries has increased the public’s fascination for the subject. A number of television programmes have already been aired. Most of these trace journeys of discovery by celebrity presenters, and are, therefore, somewhat quirky – if not rather random – in their content. The BBC’s project, World War One at Home, has aired numerous stories. I have been involved in some of these – as I have, also, in local projects, such as the impressive recreation of the ‘Stamford Military Hospital’ at Dunham Massey Hall, Cheshire. Many local radio stories have brought to light the work of individuals whose extraordinary experiences and contributions would otherwise have remained hidden – women such as Kate Luard, sister-in-charge of a casualty clearing station during the Battle of Passchendaele; Margaret Maule, who nursed German prisoners-of-war in Dartford; and Elsie Knocker, a fully-trained nurse who established an aid post on the Belgian front lines. One radio story is particularly poignant: that of Clementina Addison, a British nurse, who served with the French Flag Nursing Corps – a unit of fully trained professionals working in French military field hospitals. Clementina cared for hundreds of wounded French ‘poilus’, and died of an unnamed infectious disease as a direct result of her work.
The BBC drama, The Crimson Field was just one of a number of television programmes designed to capture the interest of viewers. I was one of the historical advisers to the series. I came ‘on board’ quite late in the process, and discovered just how difficult it is to transform real, historical events into engaging drama. Most of my work took place in the safety of my own office, where I commented on scripts. But I did spend one highly memorable – and pretty terrifying – week in a field in Wiltshire working with the team producing the first two episodes. Providing ‘authentic background detail’, while, at the same time, creating atmosphere and constructing characters who are both credible and interesting is fraught with difficulty for producers and directors. Since its release this spring, The Crimson Field has become quite controversial, because whilst many people appear to have loved it, others complained vociferously about its lack of authentic detail. Of course, it is hard to reconcile the realities of history with the demands of popular drama.
I give talks about the nurses of the First World War, and often people come up to me to ask about The Crimson Field. Surprisingly often, their one objection is to the fact that the hospital and the nurses were ‘just too clean’. This makes me smile. In these days of contract-cleaners and hospital-acquired infection, we have forgotten the meticulous attention to detail the nurses of the past gave to the cleanliness of their wards. The depiction of cleanliness in the drama was, in fact one of its authentic details.
One of the events I remember most clearly about my work on set with The Crimson Field is the remarkable commitment of director, David Evans, and leading actor, Hermione Norris, in recreating a scene in which Matron Grace Carter enters a ward which is in chaos because a patient has become psychotic and is attacking a padre. The matron takes a sedative injection from a nurse, checks the medication and administers the drug with impeccable professionalism – and this all happens in the space of about three minutes. I remember the intensity of the discussions about how this scene would work, and how many times it was ‘shot’ on the day of filming. But I also remember with some chagrin how, the night after filming, I realised that the injection technique had not been performed entirely correctly. I had to tell David Evans that I had watched the whole sequence six times without noticing that a mistake had been made. Some historical adviser! The entire scene had to be re-filmed. The end result, though, is an impressive piece of hospital drama. Norris looks as though she has been giving intramuscular injections all her life. I shall never forget the professionalism of the director and actors on that set – nor their patience with the absent-minded-professor who was their adviser for the week.
In a centenary year, it can be difficult to distinguish between myths and realities. We all want to know the ‘facts’ or the ‘truths’ about the First World War, but we also want to hear good stories – and it is all the better if those elide facts and enhance the drama of events – because, as human beings, we want to be entertained as well. The important thing, for me, is to fully realise what it is we are commemorating: the significance of the contributions and the enormity of the sacrifices made by our ancestors. Being honest to their memories is the only thing that really matters –the thing that makes all centenary commemoration projects worthwhile.
Image credit: Ministry of Information First World War Collection, from Imperial War Museum Archive. IWM Non Commercial Licence via Wikimedia Commons.
If you share my jealousy of Peter Capaldi and his new guise as the Doctor, then read on to discover how you could become the next Time Lord with a fondness for Earth. However, be warned: you can’t just pick up Matt Smith’s bow-tie from the floor, don Tom Baker’s scarf, and expect to save planet Earth every Saturday at peak viewing time. You’re going to need training. This is where Oxford’s online products can help you. Think of us as your very own Companion guiding you through the dimensions of time, only with a bit more sass. So jump aboard (yes it’s bigger on the inside), press that button over there, pull that lever thingy, and let’s journey through the five things you need to know to become the Doctor.
Being called two-faced may not initially appeal to you. How about twelve-faced? No wait, don’t leave, come back! Part of the appeal of the Doctor is his ability to regenerate and assume many faces. Perhaps the most striking example of regeneration we have on our planet is the Hydra fish which is able to completely re-grow a severed head. Even more striking is its ability to grow more than one head if a small incision is made on its body. I don’t think it’s likely the BBC will commission a Doctor with two heads though so best to not go down that route. Another example of an animal capable of regeneration is Porifera, the sponges commonly seen on rocks under water. These sponge-type creatures are able to regenerate an entire limb which is certainly impressive but are not quite as attractive as The David Tenants or Matt Smiths of this world.
(2) Fighting aliens
Although alien invasion narratives only crossed over to mainstream fiction after World War II, the Doctor has been fighting off alien invasions since the Dalek War and the subsequent destruction of Gallifrey. Alien invasion narratives are tied together by one salient issue: conquer or be conquered. Whether you are battling Weeping Angels or Cybermen, you must first make sure what you are battling is indeed an alien. Yes, that lady you meet every day at the bus-stop with the strange smell may appear to be from another dimension but it’s always better to be sure before you whip out your sonic screwdriver.
(3) Visiting unknown galaxies
The Hubble Ultra Deep Field telescope captures a patch of sky that represents one thirteen-millionth of the area of the whole sky we see from Earth, and this tiny patch of the Universe contains over 10,000 galaxies. One thirteen-millionth of the sky is the equivalent to holding a grain of sand at arm’s length whilst looking up at the sky. When we look at a galaxy ten billion light years away, we are actually only seeing it by the light that left it ten billion years ago. Therefore, telescopes are akin to time machines.
The sheer vastness and mystery of the universe has baffled us for centuries. Doctor Who acts as a gatekeeper to the unknown, helping us imagine fantastical creatures such as the Daleks, all from the comfort of our living rooms.
(4) Operating the T.A.R.D.I.S.
The majority of time-travel narratives avoid the use of a physical time-machine. However, the Tardis, a blue police telephone box, journeys through time dimensions and is as important to the plot of Doctor Who as upgrades are to Cybermen. Although it looks like a plain old police telephone box, it has been known to withstand meteorite bombardment, shield itself from laser gun fire and traverse the time vortex all in one episode. The Tardis’s most striking characteristic, that it is “much bigger on the inside”, is explained by the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, by using the analogy of the tesseract.
(5) Looking good
It’s all very well saving the Universe every week but what use is that without a signature look? Tom Baker had the scarf, Peter Davison had the pin-stripes, John Hurt even had the brooding frown, so what will your dress-sense say about you? Perhaps you could be the Doctor with a cravat or the time-traveller with a toupee? Whatever your choice, I’m sure you’ll pull it off, you handsome devil you.
Don’t forget a good sense of humour to compliment your dashing visage. When Doctor Who was created by Donald Wilson and C.E. Webber in November 1963, the target audience of the show was eight-to-thirteen-year-olds watching as part of a family group on Saturday afternoons. In 2014, it has a worldwide general audience of all ages, claiming over 77 million viewers in the UK, Australia, and the United States. This is largely due to the Doctor’s quick quips and mix of adult and childish humour.
You’ve done it! You’ve conquered the cybermen, exterminated the daleks, and saved Earth (we’re eternally grateful of course). Why not take the Tardis for another spin and adventure through more of Oxford’s online products?
Image credit: Doctor Who poster, by Doctor Who Spoilers. CC-BY-SA-2.0 via Flickr.
The Plot: Catherine Cawood is a Yorkshire police sergeant, divorced, living with her sister, raising her young grandson, Ryan.
She's put together the pieces of her life following the tragedy of eight years before that ended in her daughter dead, Catherine's own divorce, raising her daughter's baby, and her son not talking to her.
And then she finds out that he's back. Tommy Lee Royce, the young man responsible for her daughter Becky's death -- even though there was nothing Catherine can prove. That was then, this is now. Catherine's search for justice is going to take her to unexpected places.
The Good: Sarah Lancashire, Sarah Lancashire, Sarah Lancashire.
I love this show so much, and the actress, that I'm never going to do it justice.
I sat up and took notice of Lancashire in Last Tango in Halifax, a show about two people who meet up again after sixty years, fall back in love, and what that means to themselves and their families. It is a terrific show, and I'll write about it one of these days. Lancashire played one of the adult daughters of the couple who remeet. It was created by Sally Wainwright, who then wrote Happy Valley, creating the role of Catherine for Lancashire. (When I looked up Wainwright on IMDB I also found out she wrote one of my favorite Shakespeare Re(Told) episodes, The Taming of the Shrew.)
Happy Valley is a mystery, a police drama, a family saga. Catherine Cawood is a fabulous character. She's tough and capable and good at her job. She's strong but not superhuman. She has flaws. She's in her late forties, with a complicated family. After having a few drinks with a man (see, I'm being very sparse with details), as they're kissing in the car, she matter of factly tells him "I'm too old to be shagging in cars" so invites him in. And yes - I confess that I loved watching a show about someone my age, being given a full, independent life.
In case you can't tell, half the reason I love this show was the amazing character of Catherine Cawood and how magnificently Sarah Lancashire brought her to life. In Happy Valley, it's not just Catherine who is terrific, but the other characters, also. There is a strong ensemble cast, and the other women are just as nuanced and shaded as Cawood.
The other reason I fell hard for Happy Valley is the story. The mystery is two-fold: first is the one close to Catherine's soul, what happened to Catherine's daughter, the role that Tommy Lee Royce played, and what Catherine will be willing to do to get justice -- or, revenge.
At the same time, the viewer watches another mystery unfold: a man unhappy with his job and his boss sets in motion a kidnapping, not realizing the brutality he sets forth in motion. Because the kidnappers demand silence, the police at first aren't aware so that it takes a bit for Catherine to be directly involved. The viewer knows, though, and watches near-misses and overlapping events with a fuller knowledge than any on0screen character. Eventually, the threads of the stories are braided together into strong, marvelous storytelling.
The setting is West Yorkshire, an area called "Happy Valley" because of high incidence of drug related problems. Catherine's sister is a recovering heroin addict, and drug use and trafficking are always lurking in the background, a vague poison to everyone's life. Happy Valley is not happy.
And yes, I'm not giving many details -- because part of the enjoyment for the first watching, at least, is learning secrets and seeing how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together.
Who will like this? Viewers who have enjoyed Broadchurch, the Fargo series, and True Detective. Like those shows, this is not an easy, happy mystery TV series. The stakes are real; their is violence and death. There are no happy endings. . . . but there are resolutions. And, in some ways, people making peace with their lives.
For those who have watched this -- can you recommend any books that have the same type of setting and characters as Happy Valley?
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Sasenarine Persaud recently returned from a successful eight (8) event reading tour of the UK, focused in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Sasenarine’s trip, funded mainly by the British Council, coincided with the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. As part of the Games, a poet from each Commonwealth country read and recorded a poem on the BBC’s (British Broadcasting Corporation) Poetry Postcard Program. Sasenarine’s poem, ‘Georgetown’ (from his soon to be released book, Love in a Time of Technology) is available here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p022ys3f The poem was printed on postcards and distributed throughout the Commonwealth Games. Sasenarine opened his tour with a reading and discussion on poetry and poetics, culture, homelands and exiles at the BBC in Glasgow in front a live audience.
This was followed by an interview and a reading at the Empire Café in Glasgow with an audience of over 200, and with the Scottish Minister of External Affairs and International Development introducing the evening. The Empire Café was formed to look at Scottish involvement with the slave trade and its association with the plantation system in the West Indies. The Empire Café commissioned Sasenarine to write a poem (‘Campbellville’) which was published by the Café in an anthology, and which led to the Café extending an invitation to visit Scotland. Two (2) readings at the Saltire Society (Edinburgh Festival Fringe), in the historic courtyard building where Robert Louis Stevenson’s narrator of Treasure Island told the story of his iconic novel,followed. Sasenarine rounded off his trip with three (3) readings at the Edinburgh International Book Festival (EIBF). He had the distinction of opening the 2014 edition of the EIBF on August 9, with a solo reading to a packed tent at a reading called “10 at 10”. Later in the day he read with three (3) other poets in an event billed as “Voices of the Caribbean Diaspora,” which occurred in the Baillie Gifford Main Theatre and which was introduced by Jackie Kay. His final appearance at the EIBF was at an event titled, ”Jura Unbound”, an evening of poetry, music and reflections, the evening before his departure.
Historians should be banned from watching movies or TV set in their area of expertise. We usually bore and irritate friends and family with pedantic interjections about minor factual errors and chronological mix-ups. With Hilary Mantel’s novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, and the sumptuous BBC series based on them, this pleasure is denied us. The series is as ferociously well researched as it is superbly acted and directed. Cranmer probably didn’t have a beard in 1533, but, honestly, that’s about the best I can do.
This is the sixth year that the BBC has run its short story competition - only open to authors who have already been published - and throughout this week you can listen to the shortlisted entries.
The winner will be announced on Monday
26 September live on BBC Radio Four's arts programme Front Row and will receive £15,000 which must make it one of the most lucrative - as well as prestigious - short story competitions in the world. Honour and glory is great, but it's even better when it is backed up with some money, especially as there are few paying markets for short stories.
gets £3,000 and the other three authors £500 each.
This year's shortlist is:
'Rag Love' by M J Hyland
Set in Sydney, a magnificent cruise ship is in harbour and all one down-and-out couple
want is an hour together in the top suite. Described by the BBC as "eerie".
'The Heart of Denis Noble' by Alison MacLeod
This story is drawn from real life; it shows Denis Noble, the pioneering systems
biologist, awaiting an operation on his heart – the organ that he has
spent his whole adult life studying – and looking back to consider the
relationship between the heart of love and the heart of science.
'Wires' by Jon McGregor (runner up last year)
young woman's life flashes before her eyes as an unusual object flies
towards her windscreen on the motorway.
'The Human Circadian Pacemaker' by K J Orr
As an astronaut attempts to re-adjust to life
on earth, how will his wife cope and can their relationship ever return
to its old rhythm?
'The Dead Roads' by D W Wilson
An American road trip story where two old school buddies try to win the affections of a free-spirited
girl; then a mysterious man enters the picture...
Each of the shortlisted
stories will be broadcast daily on BBC Radio 4 at 3.30pm from today Monday 12
September. It's also available as a
free podcast available to download for two weeks from
Margaret Atwood says that writing is an apprenticeship and that we all learn from our masters, some of them are alive and some of them are dead...This short list should offer a real insight into contemporary writing that demand
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Veteran actor and comedian Steve Martin is writing a book based on his Twitter posts, with all profits going to charity, the book publishers said on Friday. Martin announced the book via Twitter in a tweet that said “Due to absolutely no demand, soon I’m publishing a book of my tweets. Many of your replies included! All my profits to charity.”
The book will be called “The Ten, Make That Nine Habits, of Very Organized People. Make That Ten,” and will be a collection of Martin’s tweets as well as responses from followers, publishers Grand Central Publishing said in a statement. Surprisingly, the theme will also include fetish movies and porn videos.
The book is due for release in summer 2012, and all profits will go to charity. The 66-year-old “Pink Panther” actor has embraced the social networking site, building a fan base of more than 1.7 million followers. Martin’s tweets made news in December 2010 when the actor claimed to be tweeting updates from legal proceedings at jury duty, which are usually subjected to confidentiality. He later confirmed that the tweets were false and posted as a parody.
The actor’s last book, a novel called The Object of Beauty was published in 2010 and made the New York Times bestseller list. Martin is currently appearing alongside Owen Wilson and Jack Black in the comedy, The Big Year, which was released in US cinemas earlier this month