Saturday, 29 March 2008

Doctor Who Series 4 Campfire Trailer

There is no question about it -- this is the best Doctor Who trailer yet. If the trailers are this good, how good is the series going to be? I might have to fly to England specially to see the first episode next Saturday.

There may be a serious spoiler in this trailer, or it may be Russell T. Davies's misdirection to make us think along completely the wrong lines (as with Astrid at Christmas, who had nothing to do with the Tardis, as it turned out). Either way, all very interesting.

Friday, 28 March 2008

Charlotte Green giggling on Today

This gave me a lot of pleasure today -- Charlotte Green, the quintessential Radio 4 news reader, tries to suppress giggles during the 8am news broadcast. It's worth listening to a couple of times, especially if you are a bit of a giggler yourself:

Charlotte Green gets the giggles on BBC Radio 4

That link is to The Guardian's page on it, though I heard it first via the Today programme podcast -- and it was greatly to their credit that they put it out on the feed. BBC News later added a nice page on it:

Radio 4 news hit by giggling fit

Hundreds of listeners have contacted BBC Radio 4 after newsreader Charlotte Green dissolved into giggles while reading a bulletin on Today.

She lost control after playing a clip of the oldest known recording of the human voice.

Presenter James Naughtie intervened as she struggled to tell listeners about the death of screenwriter Abby Mann.

"I'm afraid I just lost it, I was completely ambushed by the giggles," said Green . . .
Not surprisingly, it has already hit Youtube, including this version, which has adds a couple of other enjoyable clips from older Today programmes:

And while we are talking about giggling, this, of course, is the all-time classic, Brian Johsnton (still so greatly missed) and Jonathan Agnew:

(Unfortunately, the uploader mishears "Aggers" for "Angus" in his on-screen comment, but it's still a pleasure to listen to).

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Doctor Who Series 4 Trailer, Bernard Cribbins and canonicity

Not long to wait now -- 5 April is confirmed as the date for the fourth series of new Doctor Who and the full minute and a half trailer aired tonight on BBC1. It had only previously been shown in cinemas. I love the fact that there is now such a buzz around Doctor Who that a new trailer actually gets a time slot on the schedule, apparently tonight on BBC1 at 7.00pm. There's a high quality version on Youtube:

It is great to see Bernard Cribbins apparently playing a key role in the new series. I've always been fond of him; feel like I grew up watching and hearing him, whether in The Railway Children film, or voicing The Wombles, or starring in the second of the two 1960s Doctor Who movies starring Peter Cushing as the doctor. In fact, I began to wonder whether Bernard Cribbins could possibly be playing the same role as the one played in Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 AD (1966), but it seems that his character in that film was called Tom Campbell whereas his character in the new Doctor Who is Wilfred Mott. And no, there aren't even any interesting anagrams you can do with those two names, so it does seem to be a new character.

I suppose it would give some hard core fans apoplexy if there were continuity between the new series and the two 1960s Peter Cushing films, since the "canonicity" of the latter is disputed. Personally, I'd love to see the lines of demarcation between canonical and non-canonical Doctor Who getting a bit more blurred. I have always maintained that Cushing was a different actor playing the first doctor, so there are no problems about canonicity. (After all, Richard Hurndall also played the first doctor in "The Five Doctors", so we should not get confused between the actor and his role). My dad always points out, though, that Cushing's doctor was more similar to the later third doctor (Jon Pertwee, 1970-4); perhaps Pertwee was influenced by that portrayal. And of course there is one other major link between the new Doctor Who and the 1960s films, the way that the outer door of the Tardis leads straight into the main console room, something we have never seen in the TV series until now.

We first met Wilfred Mott in the recent Christmas special, "Voyage of the Damned". In the new trailer, Donna (Catherine Tate) addresses him as "Gramps". Is he her actual grandfather or is this just the endearing way of addressing an old man? Time will tell, I suppose. But why is Wilf clearly in the right place at the right time, first in London just at the moment when the doctor and Astrid arrive on Christmas day, and now talking to Donna?

Friday, 21 March 2008

Earliest Easter for 95 years

I couldn't remember every experiencing an Easter as early as this before and this Telegraph article confirms my impression:

Holidays ruined by earliest Easter in 90 years
By Jonathan Petre and Nick Allen

The earliest Easter since 1913 is playing havoc with the holiday plans of thousands of families this year.

Not only are experts predicting it could be the coldest Easter weekend on record, but the traditional bank holiday exodus has been thrown into confusion by recent changes to the school year.

Around a third of schools are sticking to the historic pattern and beginning their two-week Easter holidays tomorrow - but most of the others are adopting a new system and will not break up until April 4 or even later.

It means that thousands of families who would normally start their Spring break this weekend will have to take their children back to school the day after Easter Monday, only for them to start holidays again the following week . . . .
Well, think yourself lucky, I say. In the US, Easter passes by almost unnoticed. I will be teaching on Easter Monday, something I've had to get used to over the last couple of years; in other years I have taught on Good Friday too (but I have no Friday classes this semester). A lot of the local schools find a way around the problem of no national Easter holiday by making Good Friday a "teacher day" so giving families a longer weekend. But they will all be back at school on Monday. I find the lack of any Easter break still one of the strangest things to try to get used to in living in the US. There is a benefit, the fact that the academic year finishes a lot earlier here than in the UK, and I will be enjoying that when it comes -- teaching all finished by the end of April, graduation all complete by mid May -- but at the moment, on Easter weekend, it still feels very odd. As far as Christian services are concerned, Good Friday does not appear to be an important day in the Church's calendar. Many churches, at least in our area, have no Good Friday service at all (Duke Chapel is an exception). Everything is focused on Easter day. Even there, one might add that Easter seems to be far less important to most people round our way than Halloween or Valentine's Day, which are major American festivals celebrated by all.

I began this blog entry, though, by reflecting on just how early Easter is this year, and I think it makes the strangeness of the lack of Easter celebration here in the US all the more keenly felt (even if the broadcast of The Passion this year has made this Easter quite special for me). In some ways, I can see that it is a good thing. It must be tough to be a Jew or a Muslim in the UK when everyone is celebrating Easter. But like Christmas, Easter is now a pretty secular festival, and the article mentioned above hardly mentions anything about the Christian celebration of the festival -- the issue is connected with school holidays and the weather, adding that "The Met Office has warned that Britain could see snow for the first time at Easter for 25 years". Apparently the next time that Easter will be this early will be 2228. I wonder if Doctor Who will still be on then?