posted on Tuesday, 07 June, 2005 - 10:52 pm
Just wanted to say how much I have enjoyed watching the BBC's new series of Doctor Who. Christopher Eccleston has been very good as the Doctor and Billie Piper has actually proved herself to be a very capable actress. I know that they are both soon to leave the series, but I'm sure they'll go on to even bigger things. Meanwhile, Eccleston's successor, David Tennant, looks like he's going to raise the bar yet another notch. I am, as you may have guessed, something of a fan.
I've also been more than pleasantly surprised by Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet - although I realise that this is not really aimed at people of my age! I grew up with the original series, but I think the new one is a worthy successor. All credit to Gerry, for remaining at the top, forty or more years since his glory days of the 1960s.
There you go, Richard, you did say we could talk about anything, didn't you?
Would anyone agree, however, that the Golden Age of television, if indeed there was one, was in the 1960s and 70s? I'm mainly thinking of stuff like The World at War, Dad's Army, Hancock, The Sweeney, The Avengers, Star Trek, etc... In more recent years, the only shows that have made an impression on me have been Robin of Sherwood, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and A Very Peculiar Practice and all of these were twenty years ago and seemed to come from a more literary source.
Do we all just kid ourselves into believing that things were better in 'the good old days'? Or, in actual fact, were they...?
Bill posted on Wednesday, 08 June, 2005 - 10:46 am
If you want to keep a Sky/JW connection, it still (just) possible to get the Sherlock Holmes soundtrack CD.
The music is by Patrick Gowers, who wrote "Rhapsody" for a JW album.
That makes me think of a good quiz question... :-)
Chris posted on Wednesday, 08 June, 2005 - 08:16 pm
That's very interesting, Bill. I hadn't actually tried to think of any sky connections, but I bet there are a few.
By the way, I believe that Gowers' daughter, Lucy, who was in her teens at the time, actually played the lead violin on the Holmes theme. She was quite good, but not quite a virtuoso - therefore he got her to play it so that it sounded as though it been played by a 'talented amateur' - i.e., Holmes himself! I'm not certain where I read that, but I'm sure I read it somewhere many years ago.
I had no idea that there was a soundtrack CD available, but all the episodes are currently available on DVD.
Bill posted on Wednesday, 08 June, 2005 - 09:18 pm
I have the original release of the "Sherlock Holmes" CD. (Got it for 50p)
Amazon.com has the re-released version. Beautiful music. "Libera Me", a haunting, choral version of the the theme, is particularly good. The main theme and "The Red Circle" (not on the soundtrack CD) are also available on "Sherlock Holmes: Classic Themes from 221B Baker Street".
According to the sleeve notes, Kenneth Sillito played violin on the album but Lucy Gowers may have played uncredited. She did play the poignant track "The Death of Sherlock Holmes" at Jeremy Brett's funeral!
Bill again posted on Wednesday, 08 June, 2005 - 10:45 pm
Patrick Gowers' daughter is called Katherine. However, Chris is partially right. Kenneth Sillito played on the album (all re-recorded for the CD) but Katherine played for Holmes in the series.
http://www.brettish.com/tbev2-01.html: It was Katherine Gowers whom we heard playing whenever Jeremy picked up the violin in the Holmes series. As Peter Haining revealed in The Television Sherlock Holmes, "The reason for this choice is because Patrick thought she would most sound like a 'gifted amateur'--the status accorded to Sherlock Holmes."
Chris posted on Thursday, 09 June, 2005 - 07:57 am
I have absolutely no idea why I called the girl in question 'Lucy'. I must have confused her with someone else! Still, it's reassuring to know that my memory hasn't let me down completely!
I have the Peter Haining book you mention, although I have not looked at it for many years, so this must be where I read the quote you...er...quoted! Sorry, too early in the day for my brain to be functioning properly!
By the way; in 1989, myself and the singer of the band I was in at the time went to see the stage play 'The Secret of Sherlock Holmes' which starred Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwick. At one point, Holmes has to delivery a monologue or soliloquay and Brett would stand at the front of the stage and look out into the audience as he did so. We were sitting in the front row and as he spoke, Brett stared directly at us! A strange and surreal moment! Yes, he was a brilliant actor - the best Holmes in my opinion - and I was very sad when I heard he had died.
Richard posted on Saturday, 11 June, 2005 - 02:58 pm
Yes, I did say we could talk about anything, and I had a little bet with myself whether the first topic here would be Doctor Who (which we'd already touched on on the old forum) or Star Wars (ditto). :-)
As for my views on the new D.W., I have mixed feelings about Christopher Ecclestone for reasons I can't quite determine. I think he grins too much... I wasn't aware that Billie Piper was leaving as well (Ecclestone's departure is of course, common knowledge even to non-Whovians).
With regard to golden ages of TV, I'm not sure. I think that most people born since the early 50s will consider the "golden age" to be their late teenage years (when we're most likely to watch most TV, and when it's most likely to leave a lasting impression). I missed a lot of the emblematic British TV of my teenage years, 'cos I spent most of my time in France. Furthermore, most of that output (at least, the bits I see every now and again through repeats) has dated very, very badly.
My own rose-tinted glasses are mainly reserved for the 60s (The Prisoner, Mission: Impossible, Department S, original Star Trek, Lost in Space, the corny Batman, etc, etc).
The problem with TV since the mid 80s (when I came back to the UK full time)is the "multi-channel revolution" and 24/7 broadcasting which started then. This means that there's so much time to fill and so many programmes being made that for one (or a few) to shine through and become emblematic of their year (never mind decade)has become very difficult.
I agree with whichever talking head it was who said during the BBC's series about the Best Decade a few months ago that the "golden age" (if there is one) is *now* (and in a few years' time, it'll be then). While there is a whole load of utter crap clogging up the airwaves, there's some quality stuff out there as well.
I like, for instance, the modern appraoch to making cops'n'killers shows: the cops don't have to get it right every time, some stories take a few episodes to tell, they're not all about guns and shouting and the stories are often more interesting than the stuff churned out in the 70s or 80s.
While "Reality TV" (a misnomer if ever there was one) has taken off big time, most of it is unwatchable tripe. I must confess to a fondness to Big Brother, although I don't watch it all day and night (the evening summary shows are more than sufficient). I think it's largely about the pleasue of seeing utterly stupid and ridiculous wannabees trying to outdo each other for attention, and some of the mindgames the production team play with the hapless victims are quite entertaining.
Factual TV, while largely dumbed down, is still going strong, and one-off documentaries (mainly on Channel 4 and BBC2) are as good as factual TV ever has been. I am dearly glad that the patrician attitude towards knowledge and passing it on best exemplified by Alan Clark's "Civilisation" has gone, to be replaced by a more casual "let's find out together" attitude.
While we've largely lost the tendency for big mlti-part factual series (there is no modern Life On Earth, Cosmos, or the aforementioned Civilisation, to name but three), shorter series are just as good. The BBC's series about the politics of fear earlier this year was simply magnificent, and something which really needed to be said in the current political climate. and nobody but the BBC could've made it. The licence fee was worth it for that and the new Doctor Who alone. Everything else is just icing on the cake.
And, of course, with the plethora of channels out there desperately trying to fill the hours, there's plenty of opportunity to see great programmes from the past, which means that we're ultimately getting the best of both worlds.
My one wish, however, would be for ITV to pull its socks back up and make some decent programmes again - I can't rememebr the last time I deliberately tuned in to watch one of their utterly abysmal, dumbed-down shows made for morons by morons.
And last topic: Bill, if you have a great Quiz question, go ahead and post it!
Bill posted on Monday, 13 June, 2005 - 09:54 am
Ah, "The Prisoner"! More good music. I have all those CDs.
You can also get the whole series (5 DVDs) plus the 35th anniversary DVD for GBP30 in HMV.
I'm afraid I can't remember what my quiz question was going to be. I think it might have been the point about Patrick Gowers' daughter playing "The Death of Sherlock Holmes" at Jeremy Bretts funeral.
However, I'll give you a really obscure one in a new thread. :-)
Chris posted on Monday, 13 June, 2005 - 09:58 pm
Some very interesting points.
You are probably right in that we all tend to be 'subjective' when we consider the subject of the 'Golden Age' of TV.
For me, I grew up in the 60s and 70s and therefore my earliest TV-related memories are of Watch With Mother (Andy Pandy, The Woodentops, etc..), those brilliant stop motion shows such as Camberwick Green, Trumpton, etc, Thunderbirds and, of course, Doctor Who. The 70s, for me, were dominated by the likes of The Persuaders!, The Man From UNCLE, Star Trek (not shown in the UK until 1969/70), The Tomorrow People, The Sweeney and The Professionals.
It is also a valid point that with only two, three or four channels during this period, certain shows would inevitably burn themselves into the nation's consciousness in a way that today's shows maybe don't (or can't). EVERYONE (all right, maybe not everyone!) watched Morcambe & Wise or The Generation Game in the 70s. Historical dramas like Upstairs, Downstairs, The Onedin Line and the Forsyte Saga kept the nation glued to their sets. Nowadays, if we are united merely by the likes of Big Brother, then this is, in my opinion, rather sad. And, to return to another point Richard made, remember how, at least twice every series, Regan and Carter 'got it wrong' - resulting in a Ford Transit load of crooks successfully 'legging it' or some poor sod slumped in a gutter (or in some seedy East End pub) with his brains blown out! The Sweeney was probably the first real attempt by programme makers to produce an apparently 'realistic' cop series - certainly in the UK. (See the wide variety of literature and commentry that is available on it via books, magazine articles and the internet.)
Before I close, can I just say how very sad I was to learn about the tragic deaths (last week) of the actors ED BISHOP and MICHAEL BILLINGTON. Ed and Mike were two of the stars of Gerry Anderson's TV series UFO, one of my all time favourites. By a horrible coincidence, they both died (of unrelated causes) suddenly in hospital last week. It had been my pleasure and privilege to meet Ed several times during the 80s and 90s and to correspond (via email) with Mike two or three times in more recent years. There is, of course, a tenuous sky link to UFO, as Francis Monkman's piece 'Dawn of an Era' was used on the 1981 American UFO compilation movie Invasion: UFO.
Anyway, I'm glad to see that my initial posting has resulted in some genuinely interesting replies. Cheers.
Bill posted on Monday, 13 June, 2005 - 11:38 pm
Perhaps some remnants of the "Golden Age" remain. Apart from the usual soaps, the highest ratings are currently for Doctor Who.
It incorporates the best of the original (the alternating grumpiness and geniality of William Hartnell) and good acting, without being overshadowed by special effects.
Unfortunately, old episodes of Doctor Who and other programmes of that era don't alway stand up well when viewed now. One SF series of the late 50s/early 60s had consistently good stories, scripts and acting, with minimal need for or use of special effects. They are still enjoyable now but it has not even been mentioned here: "The Twilight Zone". Even my wife (who HATES science fiction) enjoyed some recent re-runs!
However, the big theme of this forum is instrumental music. Some programmes or films have themes that are instantly evocative and irreplacable: "The Magnificent Seven", "Mission:Impossible", "James Bond". One of my favourites (still used for idyllic island scenes on holiday programmes) is music that seems far too good for a little B&W TV series from Belgium, "The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe". Hum the tune to people of a certain age** (Da da da da da-da...) and they think of desert islands...
**Around 50! :-) **
Chris posted on Tuesday, 14 June, 2005 - 01:19 am
Speaking of old sci-fi anthology series of the 1950s and 60s... I recently saw several episodes of 'The Outer Limits', which were originally made (in the US) in the early/mid 1960s. In places they are horribly primitive, but the inventiveness and atmosphere shines through. Real forward-looking 'space age' stuff -- big rocket ships with huge tail-fins, mysterious signals from space, bug-eyed monsters, experiments with the nature of time, etc... Great stuff. I used to watch them when they were repeated on BBC2 in 1980 and have loved them ever since.
And, yes, I too remember watching the old Robinson Crusoe TV series. But does anyone also remember 'The White Horses' - a Yogoslavian (I think) TV show from about the same time, which I remember watching on BBC1 in the early 70s. I loved this series, which may come as a shock to some, bearing in mind my other classic TV preferences!
Now that TV/film themes have been mentioned, maybe another thread can be developed, along the lines of 'favourite TV or film theme'...?