Secret Army – Too Near Home (2nd November 1977)

There’s a palpable sense of unease in this episode – right from the opening few minutes. Lisa visits Sophie (a key link in the escape line) to see if she will take three new evaders. Sophie – genial as ever – is only too happy to help, but Lisa can’t stay in the sanctuary of Sophie’s comfortable house for long. But when she leaves, the problems really begin ….

I think part of the reason why the stakes feel a little higher than usual (even before anything really bad happens) is that we don’t have a Candide scene until we’re about twenty minutes in. Usually, the sight of the Candide serves as a reassurance – no matter how bad things are outside, the Candide is a place where plans can be made and problems solved.

But with no Candide, the real world feels a little harsher. This is demonstrated by the sight of Natalie and two airmen (played by the very recognisable figures of Daniel Hill and John Alkin) sitting shivering on park benches the rain. During these scenes there’s a curious red herring – a woman pushing a pram (containing not a baby, but a doll) is rather conspicuous. Is she a member of the escape line or could she be a spy? Actually she turns out to have nothing to do with the story at all, so it’s odd the way the camera favours her (possibly this was a directorial flourish added by Viktors Ritelis).

Alkin would spend several years in court (Crown Court, that is) while Hill was only at the start of his career. He’d return to Secret Army with a much larger role in the season two story The Big One (and would also work again for Gerard Glasiter in the serials Blood Money and Skorpion). The Welsh accent he essays today came as a bit of a shock, but luckily he only had a handful of lines (boyo).

The first odd piece of plotting occurs after Lisa is arrested. Earlier, Lisa told Sophie that Natalie was on her way with the evaders. That’s fine, but according to Natalie they were waiting in the park for Lisa to lead them to Sophie’s house. That makes no sense – it’s quite clear that Natalie was familiar with Sophie, so why wait for Lisa? Indeed, having two key members of Lifeline in the same place seems to be a bit risky. 

I can see why, in story terms, it happened (Natalie has to be made aware that Lisa had been taken) but it’s just clumsily done. The fact that we never see the airmen again reinforces the point that they existed only to put Lisa into a part of France where she might get picked up.

Lisa visited Julius (Shaun Curry) – a member of the resistance who mughr have had news about Lifeline’s contacts in Paris. Curry and Jan Francis would go on to work together again in Just Good Friends but it’s fair to say that the taciturn Julius is a world away from the ebullient Les Pinner.

Lisa was unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Juluis is arrested by the police and Lisa – simply by being there – is guilty by association. She’s interrogated on the spot by Inspector Landre (Gerald James). This was an excellent performance by James – all the more chilling for the fact that Landre remains so calm and matter of fact.

Lisa is sent to a local prison, pending further investigation. It’s the point of the story where you wish that the storyline had been eked out over several episodes as (good though it is) it now has to be concluded in double quick time. And we’ve not yet mentioned the quite substantial secondary plot of today’s episode.

Quickly befriended by her cellmates, Denise (Helen Gill) and Maria (Souad Faress), Lisa is able to prove her identity to the resistance leader, Jan (Damian Thomas), and therefore joins the others in a daring escape attempt. Hmm, okay. As I’ve said, it’s a shame that events now move so fast and it’s also hard to swallow the fact that for about half an hour every evening all the German guards go off for a bite to eat, leaving the prison so deserted that it’s possible just to walk out. Presumably there’s no guards outside, or searchlights, or dogs, or barbed wire. Not much of a prison then.

Still, Gill and Faress do sketch their characters very deftly even though they’re not given that much to work with, and the fact that Denise and Maria don’t escape (and face being shot) helps to rachet up the tension levels even more.

While all this is going on, Gaston finds himself a prisoner of Kessler. There’s excellent work from James Bree, Clifford Rose and Maria Charles during these scenes. If Lisa’s escape never really seems in doubt, then it seems equally clear that poor old Gaston is doomed. Small touches – Gaston’s unshaved face, red-rimmed eyes and askew tie – all help to demonstrate his inner turmoil, even though Bree resists the attempt to go over the top.

Maria Charles does indulge in histrionics, but then Louise (Charles) has just been told that her husband, Gaston, has been shot by the Gestapo, so that’s understandable. Viktors Ritelis throws in a slightly showy, but effective, shot towards the end of the episode. A distressed Maria, wandering the street at night, stops to paint a red V for Victory sign. As she collapses, dragging her hands through the paint, we intercut to Gaston’s death scene again (which eerily mimicked this moment).

If one were being picky (and I can’t help it) you’d have to say that it’s very convenient that Lisa suddenly appears to find her aunt prostate on the floor. It’s also not clear why Kessler – having decided that Gaston is part of the escape line – decides not to question any of his closest relatives (Louise, Lisa).

And finally, it seems slightly strange that nobody interrogates Lisa when she’s in prison or checks out her story. So that when she destroys her file in the prison office, it appears that all records of her arrest are removed and the story is over. That’s obviously not right, as we saw Inspector Landre writing in his notebook, but this is conveniently forgotten.

But minor quibbles apart, this is a top notch episode. Yes, Lisa’s escape can’t help but feel contrived, but it’s contrasted by Gaston’s self-sacrifice (deliberately running towards a guard in the hope he’d be killed before undergoing interrogation).

Coronation Street (9th September 1964)

The discovery of an unexploded bomb in Albert’s back garden forces the residents to take shelter in the Mission Hall cellar. This rekindles memories of their wartime experiences in the very same room ….

The fourth of six Tony Warren penned episodes from 1964 (it would be 1967 before he’d next return to the series) this is simply glorious. It’s a pity that it wasn’t included on Network’s 1964 DVD, but with only eight episodes to play with each year it’s possibly not surprising that so many worthy possibilities failed to miss the cut.

Amongst the highlights is a wonderful scene between Jack and Mrs Walker in which she declines to leave the Rovers without seemingly taking half the contents of the building (Jack, as ever, is the very definition of long suffering). Whilst Ena, complete with her ARP tin hat and gasmask, effortlessly slips back into the dominant role she enjoyed twenty years earlier.

There’s a wistful longing from her for a return to the good old days of the war, where the community spirit was strong. “When there’s a war we get a lot of new songs, everybody’s nice to everybody else, nobody bothers about dressing up. It’s funny what war does for folk”.

The way that Stan and Hilda force the depressed and dejected Florrie to join them in the cellar is one example of how the wartime spirit has been temporarily reactivated. On her own Florrie seemed to be almost suicidal, but once she begins to mingle with the others (who are gearing up for a nice sing-song) her spirits began to lift.

It’s easy to argue that this is all a tad unrealistic, but then Coronation Street was never (at least in its earliest decades) designed to be a hard-hitting drama. Instead, at its core was a nostalgia for an earlier (and obviously idealised) past where neighbours looked out for each other and came together in times of stress and strife.

Even by 1960, with the rise of high-rise flats, the community pictured in Coronation Street was something of an anachronism – but then treating the series as a document of social history is something that’s rife with problems (although it’s true that the series could, at tImes, reflect current trends quite deftly).

As the old-un’s begin to sing wartime songs and reminisce about their radio favourites (Minnie stops Albert from mimicking Lord Haw-Haw in an underplayed moment that nevertheless is nicely handled by Margot Bryant) the young-ones (Irma and Dennis) can only shake their heads at this baffling display of jollity.

Whilst this is going on, Captain Platt (John Quayle) and Corporal Dixon (Duncan Livingstone) have the tricky job of dismantling the bomb. Quayle is especially good value in their scenes together – as both Platt and Dixon are given their own opportunity to reminisce about their wartime experiences as children (a good reminder that even those in their thirties at this time would have had some memories of WW2).

Even if Coronation Street isn’t a programme that’s often on your radar, you’d do worse than setting aside half an hour to watch this episode. It’s a heart-warming and amusing effort from the Street‘s creator.

Full House – First Time Buyers (7th January 1985)

Full House has done the rounds a few times on Forces TV (Sky 181, Freeview 96, Freesat 165, Virgin 274) but this time I’m hopping on board. It’s not available on DVD which raises the interest level a little for me, as does the cast list.

Running for three series (20 episodes) between 1985 and 1986, Full House features actors familiar from previous sitcoms, such as Christopher Strauli (Only When I Laugh) and Sabina Franklyn (Keep It In The Family), who presumably were recruited in the hope that comedy lightning would strike twice.

Paul and Marsha Hatfield (Strauli and Franklyn) are a young married couple, desperate to escape from the clutches of Paul’s ever-complaining mother. They find a house that seems ideal, but the asking price of £70.000 (this was a long time ago, remember) is too much for them.

But Marsha’s old friend, Diana (Natalie Forbes), and her partner Murray (Brian Capron) are also looking for somewhere to live. So the four decide to jointly buy the house and share it. With, it’s hoped, hilarious consequences ….

Strauli, best known for playing the rather wet Norman Binns in Only When I Laugh, has to tackle a very similar role here. Paul is pernickety to the nth degree, which makes you wonder exactly what the lovely Marsha ever saw in him.

Murray, a freewheeling artist, is completely the opposite and it’s their clash of personalities which dominate this opening episode (Franklyn and Forbes take something of a back seat).

Johnnie Mortimer and Brian Cooke had plenty of sitcom hits on their cv (Man About The House, George and Mildred, Robin’s Nest) but you get the sense that their careers were winding down by this point. This debut episode of Full House was competent enough to make me return for the next one, but I’m not expecting anything especially innovative.

But that no doubt would also have been the case for the audience back when the series was originally broadcast. It can be accepted for what it is (an undemanding 25 minutes enlivened by the regular cast and the occasional guest – today it was Milton Johns as a pushy estate agent).


New Tricks – Pilot (26th January 2003)

New Tricks clocked up an impressive total of 107 episodes between its pilot in 2003 and the finale in 2015. Like many popular series it went on far too long (each time one of the original cast left, the show lost a certain something) but the first half a dozen or so series remain very watchable.

For the dedicated follower of archive television, the appeal of New Tricks probably has a lot to do with the fact that the original cast (Alun Armstrong, James Bolam, Amanda Redman, Dennis Waterman) were very familiar from numerous sixties/seventies/eighties series. The same can be said of the guest casts – they’re always full of naggingly familiar faces who send you rushing off to IMDb to look them up.

The 2003 pilot is a good example – there’s the likes of Jon Finch as Roddy Wringer (a career criminal with a thin veneer of charm hiding an ugly underneath) and Michael Culver (as Ian Lovett, a retired detective who gets on the wrong side of Jack Halford).

Indeed, the scene where Halford (Bolam) casually whacks Lovett in the chest with a golf club is one of the episode’s most memorable moments. It’s an early sign that the affable Halford has a core of pure steel. Although this moment leaves you wondering how often he did that sort of thing during his police days …

Gerry Standing (Waterman) and Brian Lane (Armstrong) are also given a number of scenes which quickly delineate their characters. Waterman’s playing very much to type – Gerry’s an unreconstructed alpha male who enjoys nothing more than a drink, a smoke and some female company. Out of the three ex-detectives recruited as civilian investigators by Detective Superintendent Sandra Pullman (Redman) Gerry seems to be the one with the fewest hangups.

And then on the other end of the scale you have Brian. An obsessive compulsive, he’s blessed with a photographic memory and cursed with an inability to let go of the past. Convinced that he was kicked out of the force via a shadowy conspiracy, the pilot teases the notion that Brian’s fight for the truth will become a running theme. 

Although this sort of continuing story beat is something that modern series do quite often, it’s worth remembering that the likes of The Chinese Detective also employed it. So there’s nothing really new under the sun …. 

Much of the humour in this first episode comes from the clash between these three old dogs and their attempts to navigate their way through a modern police force that’s unrecognisable in some ways from the one they left behind. Part of Pulman’s job is to act as a buffer between the senior management (who exist on a diet of PR speak and little else) and her new recruits.

And whilst she might display some initial despair at their unconventional ways, it’s easy to guess that before too long she’ll have embraced them all fully (even the cheerfully sexist Gerry). Once they’ve bonded together into a somewhat dysfunctional unit, then the serious business of a tracking down a murderer from twenty years ago can begin. 

Although each case is always at the heart of the episode, during the early series there was also plenty of time to explore how each of the four central characters ticked. It was when New Tricks began to concentrate more on the crime of the week and less on the regulars that the series became a little less interesting.

But for now, I’m looking forward to becoming reacquainted with the early episodes again. “It’s all right, it’s okay ….”

Dad’s Army – Battle School (18th September 1969)

There are few things quite as unconvincing as a train carriage with a CSO background, but during this era of television you did tend to see it a lot – unless you could afford the money to shoot on location, there was no other way round this problem.

In a strange way I find this sort of thing quite comforting though and it’s never bothered me (if you’re quibbling about how things look, rather than the script and the actors, then things aren’t going very well).

Mainwairing and the others are en route to a weekend training course. As it’s a long journey, Godfrey is feeling the strain (Jones helpfully tells him to recite a poem to take his mind off things, but Godfrey’s choice – The Owl and the Pussycat – isn’t a good one). I like the fact that Frazer – on both the inward and outward journeys – is knitting, but no-one comments on this (I wonder what he was making?)

Arriving at the railway station, Mainwairing opens his sealed orders and, after studying the map, is pleased that the camp is only a mile away. He confidentially tells the men that they’ll be there in no time – but by this point in the series’ history,  the audience should be primed to expect that he’ll get them hopelessly lost. Which he does ….

Another interesting titbit is that the platoon whistle the Dad’s Army theme as they march round and round in circles.

Finally they reach their destination, only to find out that they’ve missed supper and even worse, they’re in the hands of Captain Rodrigues (Alan Tilvern), an uncouth foreigner. Alas, Tilvern’s not got a great deal to work with as Rodrigues simply spends all his time barking at the platoon (who he regards with the upmost contempt).

The battle ground will be instantly recognisable since it’s where the colour closing titles were shot. It’s surprising to be reminded that some of the end title footage (the final scene of Mainwairing and co running towards the camera) was used in this episode first and not shot specially.

A generous helping of Battle School was made on film (as we wiitness Mainwairing, leading from the front, suffering one disastrous reversal after another). There’s something really odd about these training scenes though – Walker has nipped off to a nearby farm to steal some food, but although we see Joe unsuccessfully attempting to rustle an animal or two, whenever we cut back to the platoon he’s also there. It’s really hard to understand why this wasn’t spotted during filming (unless the farm scenes were shot later to pad out an underrunning episode?)

Having taken one humiliating knock too many, Mainwairing elects to capture Rodrigues’ HQ and wipe the smile off his face. This he does, although it all happens rather too easily (and we don’t even see Rodrigues’ reaction, which was a missed opportunity).

Not the best episode the series has to offer then, but it still has a number of good moments. For example, I adore Rodrigues ordering Jones to stuff his palliasse with straw – that sort of thing was always a gift for Clive Dunn.

Missing Believed Wiped – 25th Birthday Bonanza at the BFI Southbank – 15th December 2018


Below is the press release for the forthcoming Missing Believed Wiped event at the BFI Southbank on the 15th of December.

The BFI celebrates Missing Believed Wiped (MBW)’s 25th birthday on 15 December at BFI Southbank with a treasure of television riches. Reflecting on the initiative’s successes from the last 25 years in tracking down and screening rediscovered ‘lost’ television classics. The 15 December event will present newly discovered material including top-quality music, comedy and variety titles as well as welcome repeats for much-requested items taking place across two sessions.

We’re thrilled to announce the premiere of the much anticipated Doctor Who animated mini-episode based on the now lost first part of the 1968 Doctor Who story, ‘The Wheel in Space’, starring Patrick Troughton. We are delighted to be joined by a number of special guests including the Indiana Jones of lost archival television Philip Morris, who will be presenting some of the rare television gems he’s recently unearthed, including missing episodes of Morecambe and Wise, Sid James’s sitcom Citizen James and children’s television favourite Basil Brush including the only surviving live performance of The Kinks performing their hit Days. Pop star and songwriter Vince Hill looks back over his distinguished 60+ year career in music plus we also feature a rare performances by Aretha Franklin on British television.

The BFI National Archive has grown to become one of the largest and most important collections of British television in the world. This special anniversary edition of Missing Believed Wiped offers a chance for reflection, looking back at some of the success stories and achievements from the last 25 years, which have deepened our understanding of British TV heritage.

Missing Believed Wiped has been spearheaded by Dick Fiddy, BFI Archive Television Programmer, commenting on this milestone he says, “Over the last 25 years our events have showcased some of the most important finds to have been located and returned to official archives. Tracking down these ‘lost’ treasures has been a joint effort between the BFI, many individuals and organisations. One of our most impressive discoveries in recent years consisted of 100 hours of very important missing single UK plays, including the 1965 version of Orwell’s 1984, and now held by the BFI National Archive. Such finds energise the quest and inspire us to continue the search to plug more gaps in the British television archives”

Session 1:

‘Music and More’ 15:15, NFT1, BFI Southbank

Celebrating his 60th year in showbiz, Vince Hill, the multi-million selling recording artist and star of BBC TV and radio, best known for his 1960s mega-hit ‘Edelweiss’, will introduce Vince Hill at The Talk of the Town (BBC 1969), the prime time BBC TV special filmed at the popular ‘Talk of the Town’ nightclub at London’s Hippodrome. Unseen for nearly 50 years since its original transmission, the 16mm film came from Vince’s personal collection. He made the discovery when searching through metal canisters in his lock up. This special affords a snapshot of Vince Hill’s live show of the time, when he was performing sell out shows up and down the UK, as well as starring in his own BBC Radio series, and appearing as a regular star at London’s Palladium. Vince had already made his name with several big UK chart hits and Vince Hill at The Talk of the Town features the only surviving performance of ‘Edelweiss’ on BBC TV. Vince Hill kindly donated the 16mm film to the BFI National Archive.

On rediscovering the film and presenting it at BFI Southbank Vince Hill said, “I’m thrilled that my 1969 BBC TV special at the legendary Talk of the Town is to be screened at the BFI’s Missing Believed Wiped, performing at such an iconic venue was a career highlight. I was surprised to rediscover the original film earlier this year in my lock up. I feel immensely proud that a new audience will have a chance to see the film after all this time and that the BFI have taken the film into their prestigious archive for safe keeping.”

Alongside this we are thrilled to announce the premiere of a brand new 10 minute animated Doctor Who mini-episode based on the now lost first part of the 1968 Doctor Who story, ‘The Wheel in Space’, starring Patrick Troughton as the Doctor and Frazer Hines as Jamie. This newly announced mini-episode, produced by Charles Norton and directed by Anne Marie Walsh who will introduce the BFI Southbank screening, will be included on a future BBC DVD release next year.

Back by popular demand, the infamous Stars and Garters segment that proved such a huge hit at our 2016 event. We also sneak in a very special – once missing – clip from It’s Lulu (BBC 1970), having previously screened the full episode at MBW in 2007, it is included here as a tribute to The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin singing ‘Spirit in the Dark’.

Session 2:

‘Philip Morris Presents’ 17:45, NFT1, BFI Southbank

Helping the BFI celebrate the Missing Believed Wiped’s special anniversary we’re delighted that the legendary CEO of Television International Enterprises Archives (TIEA), Philip Morris, is able to join us at BFI Southbank to introduce a specially selection of rediscovered classics drawn exclusively from the TIEA Archive holdings. An archive television archaeologist who has traveled the world to track down missing episodes, Philip’s never say die attitude has helped him over the years recover a wealth of ‘lost’ British Television, many found in small television stations in far flung places and return them to television archives in the UK. TIEA also assists television stations around the world to preserve their archives and digitise their back catalogue for future generations.

Among the clips and shows featured in this session are appearances from MBW favourites, Morecambe and Wise. In 2011 Morris discovered a badly deteriorated early missing episode from the first BBC series of The Morecambe and Wise show (1968) in Nigeria. Sadly unplayable, the BBC and researchers at Queen Mary University of London were able to recover some images through cutting edge lasers and X-Ray microtomography. There was existing evidence that two other shows from the first series had been sent to Sierra Leone as audition prints from London, however research found that all Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) holdings had been destroyed during the civil war in the 1980s and they were long thought lost. The ‘lost’ episode from the first BBC series of The Morecambe and Wise Show (Series 1, Episode 5, BBC TX 30/09/1968) which MBW are screening was recovered by Philip Morris, who found the two episodes in a derelict cinema in Sierra Leone.

The programme also features Basil Brush in the earliest surviving episode from the first series of The Basil Brush Show (Series 1, Episode 3, BBC TX28/06/ 1968). Located in Nigeria a few years ago, the last five minutes, featuring a barnstorming performance from The Kinks, was missing until recently. Now restored and complete, this episode contains the only surviving live performance of ‘Days’, as The Kinks Top of The Pops performance had been wiped by the BBC. Missing Believed Wiped are also excited to screen a rare episode, ‘The Day Out’, from the third and final series of Citizen James (Series 3, Episode 6, BBC TX 05/10/1962). Sid James’s hilarious BBC sitcom ran from 1960-1962, following the exploits of Sid’s scheming charmer, guest starring Liz Fraser, the late Carry On actor who recently died in September, as the object of Sid’s wandering eye. This ‘lost’ episode was recovered from Monaco Television, in an old store room during a clear out of their premises.

On the news of this recent discovery of Citizen James, Reina James, Sid James’s daughter said, “It’s wonderful that Missing Believed Wiped is giving audiences a chance to see Sid as Citizen James again in this ‘lost’ episode. And Liz Frazer too – they’re fantastic together. It’s a real treasure”

Tickets for both Missing Believed Wiped sessions on 15 December go on sale to BFI members on 6 November and the general public from 13 November, with joint ticket option available for both sessions.


My 2018 DVD wishes

z cars.jpg

Inspired by a post over at LouReviews, I’ve been having a ponder about which unreleased television series I’d like to see pop up on shiny discs. And this is what I’ve come up with ….

Z Cars

Acorn, before they sadly stopped releasing archive titles, did issue a selection of early seventies episodes – but the original run from the sixties (Barlow, Watt, Fancy Smith, et al.) remains out of circulation. Given how ground-breaking the series was, it’s difficult to understand why Z Cars remains so under-represented on DVD. A few have been repeated over the years, a few more are available on YT, but most of the surviving episodes are simply gathering dust.

Blood Money/Skorpion/Cold Warrior

Possibly I’m the only person hoping these three series (all starring Michael Denison as SIS agent Captain Aubrey Percival) eventually resurface, but it’d be nice to think that there’s a few other people out there who’d also buy it! If you didn’t know they were produced by Gerard Glaister, then a glance at the cast lists (Juliet-Hammond Hill, Stephen Yardley, Bernard Hepton, etc, etc) might give you a clue. Simon May penned the title themes, which is another pointer ….

The Secret Servant

A three-part adaptation of Gavin Lyall’s novel, featuring Charles Dance as Harry Maxim, The Secret Servant was originally broadcast in 1984, repeated in 1987 and then vanished. Adapted by Brian Clemens, my memory of the 1987 repeat is that it was a more than decent spy thriller with a muscular turn from Dance.


Another of those series which has dropped off the radar somewhat (only thin pickings on YT, alas) Roy Clarke’s 1987 series starring David Andrews as Larry Summers (who plays the wisecracking PI Pulaski) should be worth a release. Co-starring Caroline Langrishe, it might not have set the schedules alight back then but I’ve a feeling that it’s probably aged quite well. Ace theme by the Shadows as well.

Blankety Blank

No really! I’ve previously praised the series here and those comments still stand. It’s just great fun, packed – especially in the early years – with some top guests and is high on rewatch value.


I’m not sure how many episodes of this WW2 psychological series, starring Bernard Archard as Lt. Col. Oreste Pinto, exist but one featured in the BBC Archive Trial a few years back, so hopefully there’s enough remaining to make up a decent set. The episodes were re-recorded for radio (these versions remain easily accessible) and whilst the visuals might not add a great deal, it would be nice to see some of these stories in vision.


Another Gerard Glaister series. Despite its science fiction name Moonstrike was set during WW2. Glaister, of course, would later mine this era very successfully in both Colditz and Secret Army, so it would be fascinating to see how this series (broadcast in 1963) compares.

Of course this only scratches the surface – restored versions of At Last The 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set would also be high on my wants list as would the black and white Dixon of Dock Green‘s. The BBC work of Les Dawson, Mike Yarwood and (provided the rights can be negotiated) Dave Allen would also be welcome.

That’s one of the problems with wish-lists of course, once you start it’s difficult to stop …

Big Finish on Spotify


A generous section of Big Finish’s back catalogue is now available to listen for free on Spotify.

This includes various releases from Doctor Who, and associated titles like Dalek Empire, Jago & Litefoot, Counter Measures, UNIT, Iris Wildthyme and Charlotte Pollard.  There’s also plenty of Non-Who audios to enjoy, such as Blakes 7, Survivors, The Avengers, Sherlock Holmes and Dark Shadows.

Pages from Ceefax (and other Teletext providers)


I’ve been spending some time happily navigating around this website, which has archived pages from Ceefax and Oracle, as well as other teletext providers.  Each link takes you to a specific day, with all the pages accessible for viewing.

You may need to try a few browsers to find which one works best (I couldn’t input page numbers with IE, but everything worked fine with Firefox).  Navigation is simple – use the number buttons to input the page number you want, whilst the cursor keys left and right cycle you through the pages (if there’s more than one available on that page).

For anyone who used the service, there’s an undeniable nostalgic rush in viewing this relic from a bygone age.  Lovely stuff!

BBC Genome – Every listing from the Radio Times (1923-2009) now available online


Just launched by the BBC Is Genome.

Every entry from the Radio Times between 1923 and 2009 is available to browse. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to go straight to the day I was born to find out what programmes were broadcast.  Top of the Pops, All Gas & Gaiters and Z Cars were all part of the evening schedule. Not a bad line-up!

For the researcher, as well as the more casual browser, this looks like a fascinating resource.

It’s very much in Beta mode at the moment and there are numerous typos (due to the scanning software). But this is an open resource and people are encouraged to submit their corrections and amendments, so that over time the accuracy should improve.