Supermarionation documentary on its wayBookmark and Share

Saturday, 5 April 2014 - Reported by John Bowman
A major new feature film about the life and work of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson has been made by video publishing company Network.

Filmed in Supermarionation - billed as "the definitive documentary about the unique puppetry and animation technique developed by Gerry and Sylvia and their team and utilised in all their programmes throughout the 1960s" - has been directed and co-produced by Stephen La Riviere from his book of the same name.

It is hosted by Thunderbirds characters Lady Penelope and Parker, and features previously unseen archive footage, new interviews with surviving cast and crew, and clips from the shows. In addition, pioneering techniques used in the productions have been accurately re-created for the film, which will be premièred at the BFI later this year ahead of a general release.

Before then, though, a preview of selected scenes together with a question-and-answer session with the film's creative team will be held at Andercon on Saturday 19th April.

In the meantime, Network, which specialises in classic British TV programmes, has released two clips from it:

With Thanks To Tony Clark




BFI to mark BBC2's 50th anniversary and hold Missing Believed Wiped specialBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 18 February 2014 - Reported by John Bowman
The BFI is to mark the 50th anniversary of BBC2 with two special screenings.

Set up to offer alternative programming to the two other mainstream channels then on offer (namely, BBC1, which was renamed from BBC tv, and ITV), BBC2 was originally meant to open on Monday 20th April 1964, but a fire at Battersea Power Station caused a major power failure in the area that meant the schedule had to be postponed to the next day. Since then, says the BFI:
The channel has carved out a special place in the cultural TV landscape – from in-depth science and documentary to groundbreaking comedy and drama. Across these two screenings we take a look at the first fascinating week of BBC2 via surviving archive programmes that show an astonishing range of subjects and ambition, and which laid the foundations for the channel we all know and love today.
Both screenings take place on Wednesday 23rd April, and they start at 6.10pm with The Opening Week + Sir David Attenborough In Conversation With Alan Yentob.
This selection of archive clips aims to capture the flavour of the opening week (including the first night's power cut, and the hilarious newsreader forced to stay on air with nothing to cut to!). Clips include light entertainment shows such as Jazz 625: Duke Ellington in Concert, comedy from The Alberts' Channel Too and Arkady Raikin (the Soviet Union's leading comedian), and drama with Julius Caesar (the National Youth Theatre production with original jazz score).
BBC executive Alan Yentob will be discussing BBC2 past, present and future with Sir David Attenborough, who was the channel's controller from 1965 to 1969.

This will be followed at 8.45pm by the production of Kiss Me Kate - featuring Howard Keel, Patricia Morison, Millicent Martin and Eric Barker - that formed part of the opening schedule.
This lavish production of the famous Cole Porter Broadway musical was commissioned to kick the channel off with a bang, and to showcase the better picture offered by BBC2's brand-new 625-line system (until then, all UK television had only been 405 lines). Add to this a superb cast (Howard Keel and Millicent Martin), some spirited dance routines and numbers - including, appropriately enough to open a new national TV channel, "Another Op'nin', Another Show" – and we guarantee you a toe-tapping televisual extravaganza!
A fanfare for the channel based on the Morse code translation of "BBC2" was composed by Freddie Phillips. He later composed the theme music for the "Trumptonshire trilogy" of children's TV programmes comprising Camberwick Green, Trumpton and Chigley, for whose characters he also wrote songs.

And earlier in the month, the BFI will be holding a Missing Believed Wiped special entitled Maximum Access: The Complete and Utter History of Britain, with Michael Palin as a special guest.

This event takes place on Wednesday 2nd April at 8.50pm.
The BFI's Missing Believed Wiped initiative exists not only to highlight recovered TV material but to provide a showcase for the public. These screenings serve multiple purposes: to allow enthusiasts to see the titles; to inform cataloguers and archivists of the survival status of the material; and - perhaps most importantly - to alert schedulers, programme-makers and commercial distributors to the finds, leading to greater exposure.

To that end, this Missing Believed Wiped special will focus on the zany, pre-Python comedy series The Complete and Utter History of Britain - Michael Palin and Terry Jones' 1960s precursor to the much-loved TV show Horrible Histories. Here, we find sketches such as Richard the Lionheart relating his exploits in the Crusades in the manner of a laddish holidaymaker, and William the Conquerer engaging in post-match analysis.

Fans will be delighted that all the surviving material from this seminal series, along with new complementary material from Palin and Jones, will now be made available on DVD (thanks to Network Releasing).
Palin is to introduce the event.

Tickets to all the above will go on sale in due course.




BBC to mark 30th anniversary of Spitting ImageBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 7 January 2014 - Reported by John Bowman
The 30th anniversary of ITV's satirical puppet show Spitting Image is to be marked with a special documentary on BBC Four.

In Whatever Happened To Spitting Image? the arts strand Arena will reunite the founding creative team and tell the vexed and frequently hilarious story of the genesis of the satirical puppet show, with exclusive contributions from caricaturists Peter Fluck, Roger Law, and TV producer John Lloyd.

Spanning 131 episodes over 18 series from February 1984 to February 1996, the show was made for Central Independent Television and broadcast across the ITV network.

The puppets became almost as famous as the politicians they lampooned, and in 2000 were auctioned off at Sotheby's. In the course of the documentary, the team sets out to discover where they now reside and who is taking care of them in their old age.

Revealing the extraordinary technical achievement of the series, Arena meets the caricaturists, puppet-mould-makers, designers, puppeteers, impressionists, writers, and directors who worked tirelessly to ensure the show landed its weekly jibes and punches at the politicians, royals, and celebrities of the day. And, tracing its journey to our TV screens, through 12 years of huge audience figures and weekly controversy to its eventual demise, Arena will ask what Spitting Image got right, where it went wrong, and whether its absence for the past 17 years has left a hole in the schedules that has yet to be filled by modern broadcasting.

The documentary has been directed by Arena series editor Anthony Wall, who said:
I made a film about Fluck and Law in 1980, some years before Spitting Image was made, so it's great to be able to revisit their distinctive contribution to Britain's television history.
Cassian Harrison, the channel editor for BBC Four, commented:
It's a testament to Arena's success and eclectic tastes that they've secured access to the Spitting Image team. This is a timely opportunity for Arena to look back at one of television's most extraordinary satirical successes.
A date for broadcasting the one-hour programme is yet to be confirmed, with the BBC currently saying that it will air in the spring, but it will have a preview screening at the BFI Southbank on Thursday 27th February at 6.10pm.
Thirty years ago, Roger Law and Peter Fluck were happily ensconced in a converted Temperance Hall in Cambridge making cruelly funny Plasticine caricatures. These models were photographed and presented to the world in print under the anonymous byline "Luck & Flaw". Unlike a drawing, the caricatures looked like they might move and, Geppetto-style, they did. Law and Fluck, with co-conspirator TV comedy supremo John Lloyd, unleashed one of the most shocking and hilarious TV series ever. Arena tells the story of Spitting Image.
After the screening, there will be a question-and-answer session with Fluck, Law, Lloyd, and Wall.

The big-screen showing and Q&A will be followed at 8.45pm with a special two-hour celebration and Q&A featuring clips and guests including impressionist Steve Nallon plus "victims" Lord Roy Hattersley and Lord David Steel.
We're delighted to host a panel of well-known writers and performers who gave the show its satirical edge and who became household names in the process, alongside some of their victims - politicians and celebrities - who will discuss the effect their puppet personas had on their careers. Using illustrative clips, we examine the show's controversial impact at the time and its lasting legacy, and reveal behind-the-scenes secrets of the performers, puppeteers, writers, and directors. So, in the words of one famous crew member: "Puppets up, loves - wave those dollies in the air!"
Tickets to both events go on public sale at 11.30am on Tuesday 11th February - click here for the preview screening/Q&A and here for the celebration/Q&A - with a joint event ticket also being made available.




BFI releases panel video excerpt from WVA S2 previewBookmark and Share

Friday, 6 December 2013 - Reported by John Bowman
The BFI has released an excerpt from its video of the Wizards vs Aliens question-and-answer session following a preview screening to promote the second series.

The event took place on Saturday 26th October, two days ahead of the start of the second run of the CBBC show, and saw co-executive producer Brian Minchin, co-creator and writer Phil Ford, and actors Michael Higgs, Annette Badland, Percelle Ascott, and Scott Haran in discussion with the BFI's Justin Johnson following a big-screen showing of the first two episodes.





Cool Gothic at the BFIBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 29 October 2013 - Reported by John Bowman
The BFI Southbank will be looking closely at the emergence of Cool Gothic And The New Vampire next week with a host of special guests plus illustrative clips from TV series such as Being Human, In The Flesh, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The Fades, and True Blood.

Taking place on Monday 4th November at 6.30pm, it will feature a panel discussion hosted by film critic Danny Leigh, who will be joined by actors Anthony Head (Buffy), Damien Molony (Being Human) and Lily Loveless (The Fades), creators/writers Toby Whithouse (Being Human) and Dominic Mitchell (In The Flesh), and director Farren Blackburn (The Fades).
Ever since Anne Rice gave the vampire a conscience in Interview with the Vampire, the Gothic myth has been reinterpreted for a new generation. Here, the creative teams behind such "new Gothic" works as Being Human, In the Flesh, The Fades, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer are assembled to discuss the resurrection of Gothic myths on our TV screen and their vast appeal to today's generation. Illustrated with clips of these vastly successful shows and others, our panel will examine the whole "Cool Gothic" phenomenon.
Tickets can be bought via this link.

The event is part of the BFI's blockbuster project Gothic: The Dark Heart of Film.

UPDATE: THURSDAY 28th NOVEMBER: A clip of Buffy and Angel creator Joss Whedon talking about vampires - taken from the BFI's Joss Whedon In Conversation event of 12th June 2013 - was uploaded to the BFI's YouTube channel two days ago:


The full conversation can be seen here.




Patrick McGoohan To Be Celebrated By BFIBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 26 June 2013 - Reported by John Bowman
The acting talent of cult star Patrick McGoohan is to be celebrated by the BFI with a season of his TV and film work.

Taking place throughout August this year, Patrick McGoohan: A Genuine Original will see screenings ranging from the Armchair Theatre episode The Man Out There – which originally aired on 12th March 1961 and saw McGoohan playing a cosmonaut, Nicholai Soloviov, who is trapped while in orbit – to rare footage relating to probably his most famous and iconic role: that of The Prisoner, which was first broadcast between September 1967 and February 1968.

Other gems will include two episodes from the 1960s series Danger Man, in which he played secret agent John Drake, plus his stage appearance in the Ibsen play Brand, filmed by the BBC and shown on 11th August 1959.

The BFI said:
Patrick McGoohan's most famous role was undoubtedly as Number Six in The Prisoner but his career was more than just this one iconic role. This season will offer audiences the opportunity to reappraise an actor who famously turned down the roles of James Bond and The Saint.

Born in America but brought up in Ireland and Britain, McGoohan started his career backstage at the Sheffield Playhouse Theatre, and before long he was making on-stage appearances, proving to be a natural. During the 1950s, he appeared in several productions in London's West End, where he was spotted by Orson Welles, who then cast him as Starbuck in his production of his self-penned drama Moby Dick-Rehearsed at the Duke of York's Theatre in the summer of 1955.

McGoohan's first film appearance was as an uncredited RAF guard outside the briefing room in the 1955 feature The Dam Busters, and he went on to appear in many movies, including the critically-acclaimed and Oscar-nominated Ice Station Zebra (also being shown during this season) in 1968, the 1981 sci-fi/horror Scanners, and 1995's Oscar-winning Braveheart.

Aside from Danger Man and The Prisoner, he starred in the TV series Rafferty, in which he played a retired army doctor who had moved into private practice, and he had a lengthy association with the detective series Columbo, for which he received two Emmys. McGoohan also received a BAFTA for an earlier appearance in the Armchair Theatre anthology series. He died in January 2009, aged 80.

Tickets to all the screenings go on public sale on Tuesday 9th July.







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