Category Archives: BBC

BBC Spy In The Wild

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Spy in the Wild (BBC ONE, January 12, at 8pm)

In one of the most innovative natural history series ever presented, a new nature series produced by the BBC deploys over 30 ultra-realistic animatronic Spy Creatures to go undercover in the animal world to capture unique animal behaviour closer than ever before.

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Using special “spy cameras” invented by film maker John Downer’s team, the viewer is plunged into the very heart of the extraordinary lives of over thirty fascinating animals across the world, including langurs, orang-utans, meerkats and crocodiles, revealing behaviour that is remarkably like our own. To expose some of the most astonishing animal behaviour ever seen, the team of Spy Creatures go undercover.

These robotic look-alikes make all the right moves to not only be accepted by animals but also interact with them, providing revelatory insights into their world.

Each episode in this four part series is packed with a menagerie of animatronic Spy Creatures exploring the different aspects of animal behaviour: Love, Intelligence, Friendships and Mischief.

Director  John Downer said that the aim of the programme was to “capture these elusive moments where animals do something so extraordinary that makes us consider our own connection with the natural world. Inevitably those moments are rare but by deploying a menagerie of life-like Spy Creatures and other remote cameras over a long period of time and filming thousands of hours of footage it was possible to capture many never-seen-before moments”.

Spy in the Wild is broadcast on BBC 1, on January 12th at 8pm

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R.I.P Sir Jimmy Young

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The news broke late last night that the nation lost yet another veteran broadcaster in 2016.

Sir Jimmy Young has died peacefully at home aged 95.

He was one of the original Radio 1 DJs at its launch in 1967.  He then cross channels to Radio 2 in 1973 and filled the early afternoon slot until he retired in December 2002, spending 3 decades at channel 2.

Jimmy was one of the reasons why I loved radio so much.  He had wit, knowledge and timing which took him to the top of broadcasting. I still remember being in a car driven by my father listening to Jimmy – and although I didn’t always understand the content – it was the voice and the style that I was interested in.

Here is a clip of two radio greats – no longer with us – the late Sir Terry Wogan in conversation with the late Sir Jimmy Young in 1978.

BBC History launches archive to mark 80 years of Television

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To coincide with the 80th anniversary of the launch of the first British television service by the BBC on 2 November 1936, BBC History has today launched a new microsite that provides the public with access to archive material from the early days of television.

The archive, which can be viewed at here contains a wealth of video and audio footage which tells the story of television – including, the invention of television, the opening night at Alexandra Palace in 1936, TV closure during the war and its resurrection in 1946, TV’s milestone moments such the Olympics and the Coronations of 1937 and 1953.

 

Some highlights of the history archive include:

Technology battle: Early TV was a battle between two companies, the Marconi-EMI partnership and the Baird Company, each developing different technologies. Idiosyncratically, the press favoured the Baird Company technology, mainly because there was a 60-second delay in the image appearing on screen. At a special demo for the press this enabled journalists to run round and see themselves on the screen. In 1934 the Government asked the BBC to formally launch a regular service testing both systems.

Two Coronations: The Coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on 12 May 1937 gave the BBC Television Service its first major outside broadcasting challenge, which was a huge technological leap forward. Despite the equipment failing just as the procession approached, the BBC’s Tony Bridgwater recalls EMI engineer Bernard Greenhead giving the equipment “an almighty biff with his fist” – which managed to restart the unit just in time.


The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 was a far more complex operation using more than 20 cameras in multiple locations. It was a seminal moment not just in British history, but in the development and popularity of television as a medium. BBC Director-General, Ian Jacob, said the Coronation “was the thing that made the Television Service take off… everybody from that moment on wanted to have television”.

Speaking about the archive, Robert Seatter, Head of BBC History, says: “We are delighted to mark this momentous occasion by sharing much never-before-seen material from the BBC archives. The anecdotes, images and recordings offer today’s audiences a fascinating behind-the-scenes insight into the early days of television.

“It is also great to be doing this in partnership with media history experts from the University of Sussex and other UK research centres, who set our BBC story in the wider context of what was happening in communications and society.”

Professor David Hendy, Professor of Media and Cultural History at the University of Sussex, says: “These fascinating accounts, from the BBC’s own collection of oral history interviews, take us straight back to a time when the future of TV wasn’t yet known, when everything was new and uncertain. They offer us as never before the real inside story of those who set television going on its now 80 year-long journey. And a very human story it is: a tale of risk-taking, pioneering spirit, rivalry, hope, anxiety – and, of course, the slow working out of how to make popular art out of an obscure bit of rather cumbersome technology.”

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Remembered: DJ DaveCash 1942 – 2016

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Dave Cash was one of Radio 1 and Capital Radio’s original DJs who later reinvented himself as a bestselling novelist. Although he originally intended to apply to Radio Caroline, fate intervened and he began working for Caroline’s biggest rival Radio London.

It was during his early days on Radio London that Cash struck up an on-air partnership with a then 19-year-old trainee DJ called Maurice Cole, who became better known to millions as Kenny Everett. After the Government outlawed pirate radio stations Cash joined Radio Luxembourg, then in 1967 he became one of the founding DJs on BBC Radio 1 alongside the likes of Tony Blackburn, Pete Murray and Alan “Fluff” Freeman.

In the late 1960s Cash hosted episodes of Top of the Pops on BBC Television. He supplied the voice-over in The Who’s cult film hit Quadrophenia in 1979 and took a cameo role alongside Dennis Hopper in the sci-fi comedy The American Way (1986). By then he had become programme controller of Radio West, the commercial station based in Bristol, when it was launched in 1981.

In 1999 Cash returned to the BBC, working in local radio across the south of England, broadcasting weekend shows of rock classics and country and western tracks on Radios Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Solent, Berkshire and Oxford. His recollections of life aboard a pirate radio ship, He Sounds Much Taller, appeared as an audio book in 2012.

Jason McCrossan spoke to radio commentator and former colleague Paul Chantler.

The Real Marigold Hotel Xmas special

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BBC Two has confirmed a two-part Christmas special for The Real Marigold on Tour, starring some familiar faces from the first series of The Real Marigold Hotel. Four of the original cast return to BBC Two as actress Miriam Margolyes, dancer Wayne Sleep, darts champion Bobby George and chef Rosemary Shrager test out different retirement communities around the world, travelling to Florida and Japan.

The series successfully premiered on BBC Two earlier this year with impressive ratings and critical acclaim. It’s the highest rating factual series on the channel this year with a series consolidated average of 4.1million/13.6 percent share, and was awarded a prestigious Rose d’Or Award.


The BBC has also announced the hit travel documentary series will move to BBC 1 when it returns to screens in early 2017.

The new cast of famous senior citizens embarking on a journey of a lifetime include entertainer Lionel Blair; actress Amanda Barrie, snooker champion Dennis Taylor; TV personality Rustie Lee; Doctor Miriam Stoppard; presenter Bill Oddie; singer Sheila Ferguson; and actor Paul Nicholas.

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Inspired by, but otherwise unrelated to the blockbuster film, the series documents the authentic experience of eight characters in their golden years as they head to India on an experimental adventure to see if they would consider retiring to the other side of the world. The new four part series will see the group travel thousands of miles from home and this time land in Kochi, a city in the southwest Indian state Kerala, to test whether they can set up a more rewarding retirement than in the UK.

Loophole for iPlayer closes today

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iPlayer loophole closes today

From today, anyone watching BBC programmes only on iPlayer will be required to buy a TV licence to view the content.

Previously a licence was only needed to watch live broadcasts, so catch-up content was technically exempt from the £145.50 annual fee.

But due to a change in the law, a licence will be needed to download or watch BBC programmes on demand.

Those who already have a TV licence will not be affected.

The change comes after the government said it wanted to modernise the current system, so those watching catch-up TV do not get “a free ride”.

The new rules apply to all devices used to access iPlayer – including laptops, smartphones, tablets, TV streaming devices and games consoles, as well as through third-party services such as Sky, Virgin or BT.  However, a TV licence will still not be needed for watching other on demand services, such as ITV Player, All4, My5 or Netflix.

 

 

Aerial laser maps reveal WWI Battle of the Somme secrets

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An aerial survey using aircraft mounted lasers has revealed previously undiscovered evidence that might potentially help to dispute accusations of a lack of determination by Welsh soldiers during the first Battle of the Somme in the Great War of 1914-1918. Aerial mapping company Bluesky flew an area of northern France called Mametz Wood, capturing accurate 3D measurements of the terrain and ground cover.

In the years since 1916, there has been uncertainty as to why Mametz Wood proved so hard for the Welsh Soldiers to clear; there were even accusations of a ‘distinct lack of push’. As part of a BBC TV documentary which explored the history of Welsh soldiers on the Somme through the eyes of rugby player Gareth Thomas, the evidence revealed by the data was used to evaluate the topography of landscape and help the archaeological team focus their efforts on the ground.

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Using specialist software, the Bluesky LiDAR data was stripped of tree cover and other features to reveal the bare earth surface. The resulting ‘moonlike’ image clearly showed two crater-like features with rectangular sides, so, not shell holes, which were not on any other map. To the east of these anomalies was another, more subtle feature, also not depicted on war time maps or in reconnaissance information.

“The data allowed the experts to read the landscape from the air, seeing through the trees and vegetation,” commented the programme’s producer, Louise Bray of Bearhug TV. “This revealed a number of clues in a never before seen landscape. It was hoped that these discoveries might give a better understanding of the difficulties faced by the soldiers on the ground.”

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Clips from the programme ‘Wales at the Somme: Gareth Thomas and the Battle of Mametz Wood’ is available to view for a limited time only on the BBC iPlayer.