TV Nation

I don’t watch a massive amount of TV but what I do watch can sometimes be considered a little niche. I watch a lot of documentaries – especially stuff on BBC4 which is probably my favourite channel (though most people don’t watch it). I’ve loved all the Apollo 11 stuff they’ve aired for the 40th anniversary, has been really good – much of it original programming, quite quirky (‘Astronaut’s Wives Club‘, for example).

I don’t have Sky as I’ve always balked at the thought of paying a monthly fee for TV. There is a lot about the UK that is sub-par but our TV isn’t one of those things. We have some really good stuff, much of it original. The BBC is a leviathan of an institution which also gets a lot of negative press from time to time, but not many people could really imagine life without it. Yes, every household in Britain pays a license fee, which pays for it, but as money spent goes – it’s worth it.

I have a DVD recorder which is very good, a Panasonic, which I bought a few years ago. However, I only got the regular recorder, rather than the more expensive models with built-in hard-drive. In retrospect this was a mistake. For recording, I use re-recordable RAM disks which are the most convenient, for day to day TV, which are double sided and hold 4 hours each side. I use cheap blank dvd-rs for permanent recording of things I want to keep).

Trouble is, remembering to keep setting the recorder and knowing it only holds 4 hours – especially for series, can be a pain. I loved the first series of Mad Men, for example, but ended up missing all of series 2 because I missed recording early episodes. This was very annoying.

So I’ve bought a PVR (I think that stands for personal video recorder) and so far so good. Can hold a couple of hundred hours of recorded TV, has twin-tuners (meaning you can record Freeview whilst watching another digital channel) and the picture is really clear and sharp. It also lets you record whole series at the touch of a button (I believe those with Sky+ can do this) and it’s really good to be able to do this at last.

I’m going to start recording the original Swedish dramatisations of Wallander which are airing on BBC4, among other things.

Tonight I’m going to watch The Street. Not sure I’ve caught it in the past but has good previews. If it’s anything like Clocking Off I’ll really like it.

The Street

Monday 13 July
9:00pm – 10:00pm
BBC1 London & South East

Jimmy McGovern’s Bafta-winning series returns with more morality tales about ordinary Brits on a terraced street in Manchester. When he’s on song McGovern is as good as anyone at dramatising the letdowns and wrong turns of everyday life, dressed up as hard-hitting, high-stakes tragedy. In this opener, he’s not in full flame-thrower mode, but it’s a tense, involving story nonetheless. Bob Hoskins stars as pub landlord Paddy, who one day catches teenager Calum smoking in the gents’ loo and bars him. But Calum’s father is Tom (Liam Cunningham), a local Mr Big whose interests span building, drug dealing – and funding the pub’s football team. When Tom demands his son be served, he and Paddy move towards a violent confrontation with a weird formality, rather like 18th-century duellists choosing their pistols. As the ritual unfolds we have plenty of time to reflect on issues like honour and the heroism of the little man. Cunningham is good and there’s a brief cameo from Timothy Spall, who returns as hopeless minicab-driver Eddie, but Hoskins’ performance is what makes this worth watching.

(Source: Radio Times)


Most UK residents will have seen this T-Mobile advertisement airing on  TV this January. It was filmed live at 11am on 15th January 2009.

It was a ‘dance mob’ and took place at London’s Liverpool Street Station.

I’m also quite taken with this Virgin Atlantic’s 25 year anniversary advert now airing on TV.

Remember Our Price?? God that brings back memories… 1984! I was 8 years old.

Review: Wallander (Episode 3 – One Step Behind – BBC1)

A very absorbing final episode of Wallander, the dark Swedish crime thriller brought to a UK tv audience by the BBC. This episode seemed almost more grim than the other two so far screened as it seemed to have the most murders.

The storyline was deeply complex and mostly a mystery, right up until the end. Dead teenagers, a homosexual police detective who also gets killed, more murders, vivid scenes of the Swedish outback, Wallander himself looking like a zombie from so little sleep and illness. Surreal country-scapes, the dead bodies of children looking like broken dolls and to top it off – a psychopathic transvestite.

No point in me dissecting the plot line in depth suffice to say it’s a real shame that only three of these were made. To me it has far more appeal than any of the other police dramas we have on TV. Masses of originality, luscious cinematography, excessively dark and twisted story lines (as I’ve said before, it’s like a TV version of the film Seven).

I have never been a huge Branagh fan but I thought he was excellent in this.

Let’s hope they make some more. I may even read the books now too.

Overview of Wallander on the BBC