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They call him a media terrorist, but he’s not going to comment, Chris Morris is a legend. The Day Today is probably the best remembered project that Morris has leant his skills and talent to. Basically, it’s the news. Yes for thirty beautiful minutes you are gonna be facted. This is an excellent pastiche of the world of news, superb characterisations, quality production and obscure stories. All the details have been carefully crafted for your satirical pleasure, this really feels like the news, sincere presenters with proper news names, the graphics, the music. Right from the word go the erratic graphics begin to get carried away as the shows globe logo transforms into a spinning coin, a football, and the music stampedes on through with a passion and urgency to rival any bulletin. Then there he is, Morris as his Paxman style parody of the news anchor-man. “Top Gits tonight…” he exclaims as the headlines begin. It’s spoof, so what kind of headlines should you expect? Portillo's teeth removed to boost pound Exploded cardinal preaches sermon from fish tank And where now for man raised by puffins? The show continues on it’s path, attacking every ingredient on the way, sport, business, weather, travel, vox pops, green news, the list goes on. Essentially it’s a sketch show with a definite genre and form, but there is still space for soap and docu-soap mockeries. It was made in 1994 and the fact that they were mocking docu-soaps before they became the next-big-thing is to their credit and shows the talent of those involved. When it comes to the crunch, it’s all a bit silly really but when delivered with as much conviction as they do it becomes very dead-pan. Apart from just being silly it seems there is a definite want to make a proper attack on the news genre, and there’s certainly a fair few prods at royalty and government for good measure. Including sketches from a range of contributors the show is mainly down to Armando Iannucci, Peter Baynham, Chris Morris and the cast. It’s an audio-visual evolution of ‘On The Hour’ a news spoof on Radio 4. Iannucci is a big name, it’s difficult to spell too, but seriously he is top stuff. His own recent show on Channel 4 was a joy of ground-breaking honesty and his other many credits including BBC’s Armistice shows and Alan Partridge are testimony to his comedy sparkle. Peter Baynham, also a very funny man with an impressive past, he plays a few parts in the show but generally seems happier writing. Generally though Chris Morris tends to get the most attention from this show, it might not be fair, but that’s life. He gets the most attention in this opinion too. The son of two Cambridgeshire GPs, Chris Morris was educated at Stonyhurst College and studied zoology at Bristol University. He started at BBC Radio Bristol in 1987, where he hosted a show called No Known Cure. A lot of Morris’ trademarks and tools evolved over the show’s two-year run – prank phone calls, bizarre ‘news’ stories, and the wilful mangling of the English language into a myriad of baffling shapes. According to legend (there are a lot of legends about this man), Morris departed under a cloud after filling a news studio with helium, which meant that news of a fairly serious pile-up was apparently read by Mickey Mouse. This was the first in a prestigious line of sackings, caused by varied incidents. Pausing briefly to record a few shows for the long-dead satellite channel BSB, he made his way to Greater London Radio, where he quickly started to court the sort of controversy that still dogs him. He re-edited the Queen’s Christmas speech so that it seemed that ol’ Liz was effing like a trooper. The hoax calls continued, and it seems that Morris’s long-running feud with the Evening Standard’s Victor Lewis-Smith dates to this period – Smith appears to feel Morris somehow ripped him off by doing prank calls. He followed this with the beginnings of The Day Today, and of course the beginnings of The Day Today was the finishings of On The Hour, a half-hour radio show that savagely and brilliantly spoofed its host network. On The Hour launched Morris, Steve Coogan, Patrick Marber and Armando Iannucci on an unsuspecting populace. On The Hour duly mutated into The Day Today. And thank god, I don’t know what we’d have done without the news-felch. Although Morris nearly pulled out of the show early on due to an argument with Iannucci over a sketch regarding the discovery of fossilised remains of Christ. Some other noted Morris moments in history: He was suspended from Radio 1 after falsely announcing the death of Jimmy Saville and insinuating that Michael Heseltine had also died. In 1996 he appeared on the daytime programme The Time, The Place, posing as an academic, Thurston Lowe, in a discussion entitled "Are British Men Lousy Lovers?". Brass Eye a natural extension of the Day Today style has produced some of his more celebrated controversy - Michael Grade cautiously commissioned a series, only to seek to shelve the finished product until station executives persuaded him otherwise. A spoof report about a new Yorkshire Ripper stage show, Sutcliffe The Musical was cut from the series. (Morris retaliated in a subsequent episode, superimposing the words "Grade is a c**t" on the screen for a single frame.) More recently his Paedo-gedden special rocked the Daily Mail’s boat like a trooper and posing as Richard Geefe a columnist in The Observer he proceeded to commit suicide. That’s the man in charge, let’s look at some of the line-up… Christopher Morris (Chris Morris) – In Charge and Paxmanesque Collatallie Sisters (Doon Mackichan) – Business News delivered with such stern kn owledgeable conviction you might almost believe the nonsense jumble of information and be concerned about the Currency Susan. Chris… Collatalli Sisters… Chris… Alan Partridge (Steve Coogan) – Sports. Great rendition of that breed of telly presenter, eternally amiable but struggling. Shit – Eat my goal! Valerie Sinatra (Rebecca Front) – A mile above the centre of Great Britain in The Day Today Travel Tower. That accident has been going on for two hours now, so that’s really deathsville. Rosie May (Rebecca Front) – Environmation presenter with the world at her teat. Ted Maul (Chris Morris) – Gravel voiced fierce willed reporter Eugene Fraxby (Chris Morris) – A man who sees what happens and tells it. Peter O’Hanrahahanrahan (Patrick Marber) – He’s lost the News, and he’s dying in a news grave. Brant (David Schneider) – The physical cartoonist from the Daily Telegraph casts his wry eye on the world of politics. Barbara Wintergreen (Rebecca Front) – Reporting for The Day Today, for CBN news, from across the pond. In a dazzling array of garish suits she weekly rolls out the poetic tabloid telly wordplay. Jacques ‘Jacques’ Liverot (Patrick Marber) – Philosopher and cultural commentator. Colin Poppshed (Peter Baynham) – Gay Desk. (He isn’t gay by the way, they wouldn’t employ a homosexual!) Sylvester Stewart (David Schneider) – The disembodied mister meteorology. These are just a few of the characters that make up the news team, the cast play many other roles through the show as members of the public and various sketch characters. The skeleton cast is: David Schnieder – Friday/Saturday Night Armistice, Armando Iannucci Shows Patrick Marber – Knowing Me Knowing You Peter Baynham – Friday/S aturday Night Armistice, I’m Alan Partridge Doon Mackichan – Smack the Pony, Beast, Glam Metal Detectives Rebecca Front – Big Train, Time Gentlemen Please, Knowing Me Knowing You Steve Coogan – I’m Alan Partridge, Coogan’s Run, Dr Terrible’s House of Horrible, Knowing Me Knowing You. A lowdown of what happened in each one when they did it… Main News Attack Christopher Morris looks on aghast as Clanger McMartin presents real life footage of drama and gore in “It’s Your Blood”, Alan Partridge looks back at some of the sporting highlights of the sporting season, Prince Charles volunteers to spend a term in jail to set an example, and Barbara Wintergreen reports from America, where a serial killer is to be executed on a toilet in the style of Elvis Presley’s death. Plus! A shocking expose on bullying in the church, and a special preview of BBC2’s forthcoming “Attitudes Night” including another chance to see the last execution live from the BBC Television Centre. These guys like their executions. The Big Report Christopher Morris gets hip and streetsmart to the latest musinews from satellite channel Rok TV, Harfynn Teuport and Sukie Babswent take us through pop and we meet gangster rapper Far-Q in an excellent MTV pastiche, while Alan Partridge gets soaking wet for a live horse racing report from Marple. Coming up as stories in the broadgramme tonight - an in-depth look at the appalling rise in the use of illegal backstreet dentists, and the first part of an in at the deep end look at a day in the life of St. Lamb’s Pool in Acton. Meganews This is THE NEWS! The Queen and Prime Minister John Major have been involved in some sort of drubbing incident to save cash, many members of the royal staff have been culled, but not even an event of this magnitude can prevent The Day Today from bringing you the real news! So stay tuned as Ted Maul gives us the garble on an infestation of horses in the London Underground, Alan Partridge follows sport right off the sportstrack, Richard Branson undergoes a probing interview in The Dentist’s Chair, and Barbara Wintergreen toasts the bride in an electric chair wedding. And if you don’t like news, sod off and watch “The Bureau” the BBC’s brand new soap set in a Bureau De Change. Stretchcast Top gits tonight: evidence mounts that the Police have taken to eating suspects, Eugene Fraxby reports on the IRA launch of a campaign of dog bomb attacks in mainland Britain, Sinn Fein representatives are forced to talk with Helium to detract credibility from their statements, a top scientist delivers a shock report on near-death experiences, and Alan Partridge presents his World Cup Countdown to ’94. So long as Peter O’Hanrahahanrahan doesn’t lose the news, that is. Magnifivent In Britain, ‘The Pound’ has gone missing and it’s emergency replacement is the Queen’s eggs fresh from cold storage, while ministers fall victim to Slemmel’s Disease. In America Barbara Wintergreen reports from the cadavalcade, a serial killer is about to be executed by the reanimated corpse of his final victim with the voice of Martin Sheen. Elsewhere in the world, the bloody gibbon of WAR is raging. So where is The Day Today? Where else but… in the thick of THE NEWS!!! And as today is the anniversary of 1944, there’s a special reminiscipackage on that too, discover more about hibernations during the blitz and how people were forced to eat their own houses by rationing. Newsatrolysis (aka Factgasm) Colin Poppshed keeps us up to date with all the latest Gay News filling in the details of gay roads and elements, Peter O’Hanrahahanrahan explains how a factory can function on minus ten thousand workers, Alan Partridge gets a crash course in se lf-defence, Sylvester Stewart ricochets around the Metball for all our weather needs, and Ted Maul keeps a live watch on a trapped commuter train, the stranded passengers of which have reverted to paganism. Could any of this be more important than the fate of Simon Rattle, last seen lost in cress? When originally transmitted there were short 5 minute teasers shown the day before each episode, much of the extra stuff was genuine extra stuff not in the proper programme, some is available on the videos, some missing and not. 18/01/1994 Includes a report on unattended farms, Alan Partridge commentating on a tennis match, a preview of the shocking expose on bullying in The Church, and speculation on the trumpeter behind Britain's Police. 25/01/1994 Chris Morris reports on ugly children who have 'the looks of an old man', and Alan Partridge previews tomorrow’s horse racing at Marple. 01/02/1994 Special health warnings about Dentists nominating teeth for treatment and 100mph babies, Rosie May casts her glance towards meat farms, and Morris and Partridge display their football skills. 08/02/1994 Shock news tonight - Frank Sinatra is not famous. He merely achieved the illusion with the aid of pulleys and two way mirrors. Also coming up tomorrow - the horned schoolboy who has been banned from maths, and metaphysics Alan Partridge style. 15/02/1994 Chris Morris and the Day Today Newsdancer run down the top ten news. This week’s highest climber: Alan Partridge interviews a Russian tennis ace. And ain’t it the funkiest newsiest mothersucker in the hood right now. Yo bro, dance me a full stop y’all… what…? 22/02/1994 Includes Barbara Wintergreen reporting on the bizarre case of the world's youngest man, Alan Partridge commentating on a bobsleigh tournament, and drama beneath the waves with a live telephone linkup to a trapped submarine. We're with them every inch of the bloody way... As with many of the projects the cast and writers have done before and since there is a tremendous attention to detail. The genre has been studied in detail and ripped apart at the seems. From the flawless construction of all the codes and signifiers we recognise in news to the curious emphasis of words in sentences with appropriate eyebrow accompaniment, it leaves it’s mark upon you. After watching The Day Today it’s hard to take news seriously, you suddenly begin to notice the strange behaviours of TV journalists despite their stern deadpan delivery. It’s brilliant basically, and it can be placed hand in hand with Fawlty Towers as a great British comedy success. Because it is of that calibre, it was so good, so absolutely spot on that they simply couldn’t make any more. Stopping while you’re ahead is a wise thing to do, knowing when you’re ahead is a skill. This bizarre and often surreal take on the news genre has been a major landmark in comedy but still feels as fresh as when it was made. Certain to be copied, impossible to forget and unlikely to be repeated. Big shame. Available on Video. Not a shame at all. Two videos each with three episodes are in the shops and a very reliable investment indeed, you can watch these over and over again and they are a thing of beauty.
Sketch shows come and go, many provide their own unique take on the genre, Big Train is struggling to make it’s mark but has already achieved cult status. Opinion is very divided over this show, some say the humorous moments are few and far between, I disagree vehemently and I know many who would take the same loyal stand. This is clearly a matter of personal taste and admittedly there are occasional sketches that don’t quite hit the mark for me, but thanks to it’s fast pace, you don’t have to wait long before another blinding skit comes along. If there was such a thing as a comedy tree then this show would be a large healthy twig stemming off the same branch as Brass Eye, Alan Partridge and Armando Iannucci. The faces of the show are from that comedy family, many are familiar faces rapidly becoming the heart of British humour. Compare to the cast of Not the Nine O’clock News or Monty Pythons’ Flying Circus and their importance as writers, performers, producers and commentators now. Many of the Big Train cast will be as important in years to come. TalkBack (Smith and Jones’ company) must surely be the leading producers of top British comedy and entertainment, and it is that very company that ‘Big Train’ hails from. Incidentally going back to that whole Comedy Tree issue, well we’re most certainly dealing with an extension of the Monty Python branch here! You simply cannot expect to know what will happen next… But alas I digress, to the cast… The Boys Kevin Eldon – An instantly recognisable face from the supporting cast of many previous BBC successes. Having worked with Lee and Herring in ‘Fist of Fun’ and ‘This Morning with Richard not Judy’ Kevin has been a busy chap over the years, appearances on Knowing Me Knowing You and the Alan Partridge spin-offs, he’s the lead singer in Bill Bailey’s band ‘Beergut 100 ’, and a more recent role in World of Pub merely skims the surface of his work. Mark Heap – If you know him, you’ll probably know him as psycho artist Brian in Channel 4’s Spaced, he is also the voice of Stressed Eric and you may have seen him alongside Rik Mayall in feature film ‘Bring me the head of Mavis Davis’ Simon Pegg – The Peggster is really making name for himself appearing in many recent Sitcoms including ‘Faith in the Future’, ‘Hippies’, and most notably his own show ‘Spaced’ co-written with Jessica Stevenson. He also supported Steve Coogan on the ‘Man Who Thinks He Is It’ Tour with Julia Davis. He is currently working on a new comedy about Zombies. He received a best male newcomer nomination at the National Comedy Awards. The Girls Julia Davis – Julia played various roles supporting Steve Coogan on a national tour, has appeared on Comedy Nation and was part of the Blue Jam radio team which later became Jam on Channel 4, she had extensive radio comedy roles. Amelia Bullmore – Known in the past for being Des Barne’s wife Steph in Coronation Street she has appeared many times on Stage and screen and also wrote two episodes of BBC2 Drama ‘This Life’. All of the cast in Big Trains’ first series had worked on Radio One’s ‘Blue Jam’ for three series, this landmark mix of music and dark surreal humour was created by the legendary Chris Morris. Similarly they have all appeared in the Channel 4 version of the show entitled simply ‘Jam’. This connection goes on further as it was Chris Morris who directed the programmes’ pilot. The writers have said that the casts ability to keep the show naturalistic despite it’s absurdity was very important. For reasons unknown Julia and Amelia don’t perform in the second series, perhaps this is o ne of the reasons why there was such a large gap since the first series. The Girls (Series Two) Rebecca Front – Currently complimenting the three main ‘Smack The Pony’ girls, Rebecca Front has done plenty in her time, lots of Radio work, many supporting roles in sketch shows over the years but unfortunately doesn’t seem to have properly made her mark yet. She has also appeared in ‘Time Gentlemen Please’, ‘Knowing Me Knowing You’, and gave life to Barbara Wintergreen and Rosie May in ‘The Day Today’ Tracy-Ann Oberman – Formerly part of the BBC repertory, she has quite a history on stage, screen and radio, she played in Joe Orton’s ‘Loot’ in the West End, and played Julia in ‘Kiss me Kate’, but she’s likely to be remembered most recently for appearing as Beverly in ‘Bob Martin’. She has got a shed load of advert voice-overs under her belt too. Catherine Tate – Getting high acclaim in Edinburgh with her solo show littered with characterisations she was previously in Lee Mack’s ‘New Bits’ show. Her TV credits include ‘The Harry Hill Show’, ‘That Peter Kay Thing’ and ‘Men Behaving Badly’. The Writers Linehan and Matthews: Select Magazine's 50th most important people in the world in 1998. Multi-award winning writers Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews, are best known as the creators of Father Ted, but have written extensively for many other comedians and shows – ‘Harry Enfield’, ‘Smith & Jones’, ‘Saturday Night Armistice’, ‘Alexei Sayle’ and ‘The Fast Show’ amongst others. ‘Big Train’ is the first comedy sketch show that is entirely their own material and ideas, although there are also contributions from the cast and additional material from other sources. < br><br> Graham and Arthur's credits read like a comedy pedigree and include various sketches for the following : ‘Never Mind The Horrocks’, ‘The Day Today’, ‘Brass Eye’, ‘The All New Alexei Sayle Show’, ‘Friday Night Armistice’. They wrote two episodes of Coogans Run, and the sitcoms ‘Paris’ and ‘Hippies’. He and Graham are still regular contributors to Hot Press and In Dublin magazines. Their awards for Father Ted include the 1996 BAFTA for Best Comedy, The Writers Guild ward for Best Sitcom in 1996, The British Comedy Award for Best New Sitcom in 1996 and Best Channel Four sitcom 1996 and 1997. It was also nominated for an International Emmy in 1996. Now entering it’s second series after a very long wait, the show has had a slight change of cast. Also, once again for reasons unknown to me, Arthur Matthews appears to be going this one alone. The central three male performers remain, the sketches like ‘Python’ are very male oriented, probably because most of the writing is by men. Don’t get me wrong it’s not testosterone telly, it’s just that the blokes seem to get the best parts. This seems to be common-place in this area, such a shame that the women in the show are unlikely to be as successful as the men, regardless of talent. Unlike some other sketch shows there are no running characters or catchphrases, each episode stands happily on it’s own, occasional short term running gags do become spaced through the half hour. Having said this, the first series was regularly interrupted by Barry Davies nail biting commentary of the World Staring Championships. Essentially this was a great idea but a short one, week after week motionless cartoon men would battle it out, they just managed to sustain the joke through the series, this world class sporting event is no longer covered in the show. I n the Staring Championships lies the basics to ‘Big Train’, take a situation and turn it on it’s head, add a bizarre element. High profile TV sport, make the sport like watching paint dry. Juxtaposition is a nice word I thought about writing here. You could almost call it subverting genres although that would be too revolutionary and if nothing else too specific. ‘Big Train’ is not trying to achieve anything with it’s comedy, it’s just being silly, and it’s quite happy about that. To be perfectly honest I’m quite chuffed about that too. Other highlights: Faux natural history programme in the wild plains of Africa follows a herd of Jockeys being stalked by predatory Artist Formerly Known as Prince. At home with Ming the Merciless. The office ban on masturbating. An evil Hypnotist. The Bee Gees and Chaka Khan fight it out in the Ol’ West. New Romantics sold at cattle auction. And who could forget Chairman Mao stepping out of his death bed to give a rendition of ‘Virginia Plain’. The overall spread of ideas and styles in the show suggests that those involved have been taking in the world of media very heavily. They will as easily employ the style of a natural history programme as they would slip into a French art flick. Not ashamed to hint at a movie pastiche along the way the broad sweep of ideas flitting from one sketch to the next is a joy to behold, you just can’t stop that cheeky grin creep across your face as each scene unfolds. If reviewers in the media are anything to go by then this show is certainly not for everyone, taste is unfortunately something capable of dismissing genius. Nevertheless this is my opinion and I love this show to bits, so all I can say is give it a try. And do it quickly before this gem disappears from our screens once more. It’s certainly well worth the BBC givin g us ‘another chance to see’ this one. Mondays, BBC2 (Comedy Zone), 9.30pm - 10pm (after 'Buzzcocks')
Po Na Na (souk bar) is one of Lincoln’s newest additions to the nightlife. It is inhabiting the underground space vacated by the particularly indie/alt “Barracudas”. Reaching the top half of Lincoln’s very long high street you will find a large doorway, this leads directly down a staircase and into the bowels of the club. This word has been specifically chosen because I currently believe all that inhabits this club is bilious in nature and rather horrible. I will explain why in a moment. It’s a nice looking place, there’s an authentic roman ruin encased in glass which is quirky, nice to look at and a lovely little feature. Although in the clubs previous incarnation you were able to crawl around this ruin, still best keep it in good nick. The club contains two sections, a quieter seating area provides an escape, the dance and bar area can be awkward for making conversation, but talk is cheap anyway. The dance floor is nothing special but an adequate size for the club. Walled with some mirrors and attractive décor it fits with the overall image of the place. This overall image is full of eastern promise, that’s the best description I can give because you just feel like you’re in a Turkish Delight advert. Besides big bearded men cutting up pink chocolate delicacies with sabres, the seating area feels cavernous. That being lots of little caves rather than a big one. Each of these little sections has a pile of cushions or a sofa type thing, it all feels pretty groovy until you relax in a sophisticated manner in a cushioned booth only to be told to stop smoking or watch where you’re putting your feet! The bar is another disappointment, I’m sure it’s all very modern and everything, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It may be to keep everything tidy and such like, but there is nothing on tap! That’s right boys and girls, nothing on draught. That is annoying for me 216;cos I like a pint, but at some of the bottle prices I begin to cringe. They are already beginning to get my goat. In fact it would probably be quite cool if I did take a goat in there, it might fit in nicely with the whole image thing… must dig out authentic goat-herder costume. Where was I… oh the bar. The absence of drinks on tap also leads people to fall for the stupidest trick in the book. Cocktail deals. I remember when cocktails were something other people drank, unless you were being very exotic indeed. But now all kinds of pubs are supposedly offering cocktails and boy do we sucker for it. They must be pissing themselves as they serve up 25ml of alcohol cleverly disguised as a proper drink, with some orange juice, splash of cranberry perhaps and a bucket of ice. Po Na Na Lincoln love to give you a wide selection of coloured and flavoured pap. And they frequently try to make you think you’re getting a great deal by doing two for one offers, or even half price deals! So I don’t like the bar choice or price. There is something else though…. What exactly spirited me to write this op. Well I’m still really annoyed by this so I will try and control my anger. This is not a first hand account, but a retold story of something that happened in the club on 0512/01. This has been told to me by someone who was involved in the “incident”. It happened at the club’s “Yo-Yo” night, possibly called because the organisers have the brains of children. I apologise, I do not want to offend any children. A gay couple (male) were kissing in a corner near the dance floor, they were clearly having a good night and, like any two people having a snog, weren’t really bothered about what was going on around them. Two other blokes were getting themselves wound up by this and started muttering abusive comments, and mentioning it to others, who also voiced their displeasure. Some friends of min e were sitting near this, overheard and thought it wise to direct a bouncers attention to it. Luckily they did this at just the right time, a bouncer stepped in just as the ‘blokes’ were about to approach the couple and perhaps ‘kick-off’. The ‘blokes’ were stopped for a moment but they were clearly having a big personal problem with two men kissing in their general area. The problem persisted, the security staff were not bothered by this, they did not even return to check on the situation. My friends could not leave the situation any longer. The gay couple were still kissing, and why shouldn’t they. The ‘blokes’ were getting worse. My friends attempted to casually put them selves between the couple and the hostiles so as to create some separation, maybe even a screen so the ‘blokes’ didn’t have to suffer the revolting sight put before them! Unfortunately putting themselves in that position meant they had to endure the spitting which was now going on. Yes that’s right, shouted abuse and spitting. The gay couple were not to be phased by this and continued their lives as they should, not even giving the idiots the benefit of recognition. The situation was not calming though, concerned for peoples safety, a friend of mine approached security again. They pointed out that it was getting worse, surely you can’t allow your patrons to be spat on and threatened. Now was the moment when security finally acted. They put a stop to it once and for all. Did they approach the small-minded idiots and tell them such behaviour would not be tolerated? No. Did they apologise to the gay couple and throw the ‘blokes’ out, telling them to wise up or get barred? No. Security threw out the gay couple. I need not say much more, other than to point out that my friend who told me of this couldn’t sleep last night through disbelief and disgust. It is also noted that several other people who witnessed this were incredulous at the bouncers actions, so much that they were immediately brought to tears and had to leave the club. Rest assured that people are being made aware of this. If anyone knows anyone at Po Na Na head office, have a word!
Following the recent unpleasantness in America, I have come to appreciate exactly what the web can do for us. It is widely regarded as a fantastic resource, as a student I am constantly using it for learning and as a basic tool for accessing or distributing information. When I did my A-Levels, the education system was just beginning to phase into the PC world we are now used to. My school was just giving up on it’s trusty collection of BBC B+ computers and the Archimedes’ were on their way out too. Having left education for six years, I became quite separated from the fast developing information revolution. Imagine my surprise when I start up at University to be told I will be needing to log on to the “Virtual Campus”. I am now half way through my degree and I am now familiar with this curious creation, and I happily acknowledge that it is more like the “Virtual Chaos”. Nevertheless I have embraced the way technology is developing. It doesn’t always embrace me but that’s just a part of the relationship we’re going to have to work on. The internet is well known for harbouring sites and images created by the more curious members of society. When I say curious, of course I mean rude, perverted, outspoken, disgusting and so on. Bless it’s little cotton socks though, it’s trying bless it. When you bring a child into this world the only things it does for the first few years is make a mess and loads of stupid noises (reassuringly I’m not a parent). These days, the net is firmly beginning to find it’s feet. It is a sparklingly useful thing for various reasons. A year or two ago my dad fell over. Not a particularly momentous thing for him, until you bear in mind that he was up a big hill at the time, he was on his own, and he well and truly messed his hand up in the process. He developed a little known affliction called RSD (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy). Causin g him extreme pain day and night and forcing him to undergo a very lengthy period of Physiotherapy, he began to see a clear problem with this being a little known problem. Now, in his spare time he runs a website to help others cope with RSD bringing together his and others experiences and knowledge. The site has since been praised by widespread medical types as being an enormously valuable resource. Where previously you couldn’t even find the information in a medical journal or book, it is now available at the touch of a button. Similar people across the globe are providing new opportunities for the worldwide flow of information. The main point I want to highlight regards the dissemination of images around the net. Chances are if there’s a new comedy image, joke, Lego porn or whatever doing the rounds, you can often expect it to land in your inbox quite quickly. Here are two examples of doctored images relating to the 11th September and their effects on regular people. Tourist of Death / The Accidental Tourist A couple of days after the attacks a photograph began to circulate, allegedly recovered from the rubble of the towers. It pictured a bespectacled bloke in a woolly hat standing happily on an observation platform having his photo taken. Proudly standing their at the top of one tower he seems blissfully unaware of the plane in the background, flying towards him. This is obviously a doctored image, but it had an enormous effect. Various websites quickly sprung to life, such as www.touristofdeath.com which features many of the photos that followed. While some people were openly disgusted that someone could be sick enough to make this image when so many had suffered, others were trying to copy it. The bloke in the picture, later named Waldo, after the hitch-hiking Where’s Wally guy that you have to find in drawings. Many images appeared, Waldo at Hiroshima, Waldo on the Titanic, Waldo was quickly becom ing the unluckiest jinx in the world. It also launched a hunt for the real guy that was in the picture, it turned out to be a Hungarian bloke called Peter, he made it for a laugh and sent it to a couple of friends, they in turn caused most of the world to see it. He nearly even got offered his own car advert!!! It became the latest internet craze, websites created specially were adding to their galleries daily, hundreds of variations have been seen. Even Bin Laden standing at the top was created. This all seems rather unpleasant, but unfortunately it’s human nature. It’s possibly also a way of dealing with the events. Sick jokes like this always do the rounds at such times, the death of Diana, Freddie Mercury, Lockerbie, these events that are not at all comedy, tend to breed humour. So you can’t blame the net for it happening, but you can blame the net for it spreading. Bert is Evil You can blame the net for something spreading, but sometimes you can thank it. The next image was a beautiful example of somebody’s ignorance providing a smile. When anti-American protesters were filmed bearing banners of Bin Laden, many people noticed something strange. Within the many images of the worlds most wanted man it seemed he’d enlisted a new henchman. Bert from Sesame Street was happily standing next to him. As the story turns out, whoever had put to banners together worked for a printing company. He searched the web for images of the man and slapped them together with little forethought. Thank god for that, because I’m sure it made people feel a lot more relaxed about the protesters as they shouted away with full conviction, not realising the exact connotations of what they were holding. Two separate instances of images, both related to a very serious issue. Sometimes provoking disgust, sometimes causing pleasure and sometimes giving people a sense of relief and a feeling that we can still poke fun durin g these tense worldwide events. I think it’s a bit of mass therapy, potentially offensive therapy but still healthy. Returning to the subject of the net in general. It is becoming more like a society in itself, dialects develop through chat and regular discourse, people often have separate circles of friends that they never see or speak to, people spread fun, information and advice to each other. Is the net making the world a smaller place? It’s certainly making everything happen quicker. Maybe not everything, despite e-mail travelling across the globe in matter of seconds, it still takes four to five days for a chuffing cheque to cash! The internet will evolve as time goes by, online purchases will increase, we will depend upon it for a growing number of things in our daily lives, and as many people believe we will slowly stop interacting with real people and just become touch-typing zombies. Well maybe not, but the obvious benefits of the information revolution are probably not the most intriguing. The development of a global social conscience seems far off. At present it seems quite capable of being disregarded as a network that operates informally as if passing on gossip. But it is at times like September 2001, when the world simultaneously went, “what the chuff happened there?!”, that you begin to realise it’s other potentials.
Welcome to the exciting world of Walford (East). Before I continue I must point out that I have an enormous love for Eastenders. It is a high quality product of it’s genre and it is produced with energy and enthusiasm. Soaps come and frequently go, but Eastenders is clearly the cream of the crop, the top dog, the elite. The attention to detail is splendid, from the fruit and veg on Mark’s stall to the daffodils around the square, everything is spot on. My particular favourite is the considerable skill that the Queen Vic Juke Box displays at picking just the right tune for the moment. Just listen to it quietly playing in the background and pay attention to the song lyrics. Invariably they fit with exactly what’s going on in that scene. It’s a joy to behold and it’s all planned. Good huh?! The characters, whilst evolving as the genre demands, are well crafted and the actors really make them, well real! I know they are essentially caricatures but that’s half the fun. They clearly aren’t real, and we’d be disappointed if they were. The best bit about Eastenders is the bust-ups. They are the big, loud and explosive, and they usually happen in the Pub. Recent ironic quote: Beppe – “I’m wondering if that Christening do at the Vic is worth going to…” Is he mad!? Of course it’s worth going to it’ll be the best nights free entertainment since someone had a birthday party. You throaty goatee fool! It's not just the Vic either, what a splendid array of venues for a good old barney or knees up whichever mood you're in. Now they're four times a week there's so much to choose from. Why not boogie the night away in the suspiciously quiet nightclub E20. Grab a bag of chips at Beales Plaice. If your scenes not up yet, visit the snooker club while waiting for your cue. Meet the new mardy girl in Minute Mart. Or perhaps enjoy the delights of Argee Bahjee indian restaurant. (Great name) Recommendations for the best soap on earth aside, down to the business in hand. Lately things have been getting out of hand… again! There are moments in Eastenders’ history where everything gets highly focussed on a particular storyline. It may be failure in business or career (see Ian Beale and Barry Evans), it may be love and marriage (see Ian Beale and Barry Evans!) but nevertheless there is always a consistent spread of issues and storylines throughout. Despite some episodes being strongly hinged on particular characters problems (e.g. Slaters’ recent explosion of family strife) there is a nice even layer of interesting and amusing stuff to tickle your viewing buds. If there is such a thing as a viewing taste bud! Suddenly babies are dropping like flies, and not just in the present. But there is more to this baby malarkey than meets the eye. Oh yes, nobody seems to know who belongs to who. And even more bizarre slowly but surely everybody is becoming related to everybody else. This could very rapidly become the most disturbing (fictional) community in the country. Sonia gave unexpected birth to Chloe last year. She is still in her relationship with the ever frowning Jamie. Her baby Chloe, fathered by Martin Fowler has been given up for adoption. For a while Martin was left in the dark about being the father, until the revelation came at a suitable entertaining time. Sonia is a handy person to give advice to Kat. Kat has been living the last eighteen or so years as her own daughters’ sister. Effectively giving up her child to be adopted by her parents. Zoe has recently found out this bombshell of information causing the inevitable explosions within the Slater family. Naturally Zoes’ mother Kat knew the identity of the father. But Zoes’ “adoptive” father, her actual Grandfather, didn’t find out until recently. Zoes’ real father is of course her Uncle. But then he didn’t know he was her father either. When all hell broke lose he was sent packing, thus causing problems for other members of the square: the ever holidaying Peggy Mitchell for instance. Lisa could do with some advice from both Sonia and Kat. It’s always handy to have a bit of background knowledge when breaking the news to the father of your child. Usually it’s best if someone else breaks the news for you! Louise’s father is Phil Mitchell and oh boy does he want a kid to replace the one that was taken away from him. But he can’t have one because Sharon, through no fault of her own, simply can’t. Oh the fun and the frolics that will surely follow when he finds out he has a child living just across the road. Perhaps someone in the square could lend Phil one of their spare unwanted children. Like Roy for instance who has also found out he has brought a child into the world unknowingly. Melanie Owen’s current courtship Nathan turns out to be Barry’s half brother. Nathan is having a bit of a hard time getting used to the fact that he’s just discovered who his dad is, he wants to break the news to the rest of the Evans clan. Before he does, he should maybe sit down and have a bit of a natter with Robbie, he’s recently searched out his long lost father who deserted him. He may be able to share his experiences. Technically it’s lots of different storylines being experienced by lots of different people, although it seems more and more like exactly the same story from lots of different angles. This is not necessarily a bad thing although it is beginning to feel repetitive. But underneath all this mess you’d think that someone would take pity on the poor lost soul we all tend to forget. The child with no-one. Left alone in the world with no guidance, no support, no loving family to stand by him in various plotlines. Poor old Asif. Where on earth does he actually live, and will we ever see any of his family. Maybe they’re not his family at all, maybe his true family are out there, somewhere, spinning through the mists of soap-land waiting to be found.
Hmmm, as an extremely excited "mature" fan of the Harrry Potter books, i managed to get myself a preview ticket. As per usual with this kind of thing, we are all asking ourselves... is it as good as the book. Well no it clearly isn't and it was never going to be. The contentious issue here is does it live up to expectations? Is it doing justice to the book? Yes it does stay faithful to what we have come to know and love... Although... I'm not absolutely chuffed with Dumbledore though, Richard Harris has NEVER read a potter book!!! ? ! ! ? ? ! And i think it shows, i think he was too busy being wise and ernest and wizzened that he wasn't mad enough. Eccentric rather, they didn't really give him enough lines for that. He only really had THAT glint in his eye right at the end with the Bertie Botts beans. Quidditch was great, Marcus Flint made me giggle. Loved his revolting Slytherin baddie teeth! I spent the first hour of the film literally welling up 'cos i was so chuffed. As soon as the Privet Drive sign appeared i wanted to cry. I think i was a bit too excitied to cope! Snape, Great! Perfect casting, never doubted it. Even imagined Rickman in the role as i read the book, before the film was even mentioned. Yay! Mcgonagall Perfect! Yay! Madame Hooch... Yay! Brill, Ace etc, nice hawk eyes! But oh my goodness, Draco Malfoy, he has been soooo under played in the publicity. The three heroes were great, they fitted the parts, can't fault them properly but i'm not totally convinced. Guess i'm a bit cynical but then it was a lot of work for the Radcliffe boy. He held his own well. Malfoy however shone in every single sneer, even the briefest of cutaways and he was juuuuuust right. Yay! Guess it's more fun being bad anyway. Moving on to other matters. Too many of the wizards and witches in Diagon Alley were dressed edwardian and victorian style. I saw way too many witches in bonnets. BONNETS! What were they thinking, i know it's english and these are really old people, but Bonnets really. It's just not how i envisaged Wizard fashion. Never mind, minor detail... Sigh. Lots of good hats generally though. Hagrid kicked the proverbial butt, he seemed to alter in size from time to time which felt weird. May have been differing camera angles confusing me! He was way big though. Great! Few cheesey moments, translated from the book with extra portions of cheese for the film. When Hermione was telling Harry to go on alone at the end, i felt a slight wretching but got over quick. More moaning still to come... Where the chuff was Peeves. I don't care if they are saving him for the second film. I want Peeves the Poltergeist, he is an essential part of the castle. The enchanting paintings in Hogwarts weren't quite right, they were just not moving much, some of them weren't even animated at all! When they did move they just kinda walked about or waved, i imagined them behaving more cartoon like with exaggerated and erratic personalities. And the Gryffindor Fat Lady is supposed to be jolly, with some life, like a drunk nursie from Blackadder! That was my impression anyway. And Fat, she's obviously been working out a lot lately or she's been given a very inaccurate nickname, it was the cuddly lady or something! Don't get me wrong i loved it, it was tops. Oh I should share with you my amusement at reading a review of the film, i think it was by Baz Bambigoye in the Daily Mail i think. He opened the article as in fact i have done, by going on about how he's this huge fan of the books and couldn't wait to see the film before his screening. He then went on to describe how Julie Walters is playing one of the baddies: "the horrible Mrs Weasley". Maybe he's trying to bluff it and he's read too much Dickens, maybe he thinks the name sug gests nastiness, you know WEASLEY. It seems he's trying to get away with it, and unfortunately it makes him look silly!! Anyway i would totally recommend this quality moving picture to you all. It may not give you exactly the same images as you saw in your head when you read the book, but it's very close. Very entertaining, very well cast, and at nearly 3 hours long a very good use of your time! Better get going, i've got potions in five minutes.... If i'm late Snape'll boil my knee-caps. Eeeyun.