Barry Letts, 1925-2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009 by · 5 Comments 

Barry Letts (right) with Jon Pertwee and Dalek

Barry Letts (right) with Jon Pertwee and Dalek

Like all major figures involved with Doctor Who, producer Barry Letts seemed to have his own personal anecdote about working on the show, one which  got endlessly trotted out to the benign bemusement of fans.

In his case, it was a bizarre story about recieving a letter containing a poem advising him of the proper pronounciation of ‘chitinous’. Yet that, and several other similarly prominent anecdotes about eyepatches and ‘Katy’s fella’, belied the fact he also had a great many fascinating stories to tell about the years he spent working on a fascinating programme, many of them relating to a pivotal moment in television history.

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Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle

Monday, March 16, 2009 by · 19 Comments 

Not long ago, Stewart Lee was trading on the fact he hadn’t been on TV in a long time.

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Patrick McGoohan, RIP

Thursday, January 15, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

Patrick McGoohan, 1928-2009

Patrick McGoohan, 1928-2009

A man rows with someone very important-looking and storms out of an imposing building, but before he can even get home, unseen hands are setting the wheels in motion for his unplanned ‘retirement’. Easily summarised in one sentence, but perhaps the single most powerful and compelling sequence in television history, and capable of striking a chord with almost anyone anywhere in the world.

There’s no question that The Prisoner has overshadowed the rest of Patrick McGoohan’s long list of television credits (not to mention his extensive film work) – from, notably, his multi-award winning episodes of Columboto, somewhat less notably, interminable daytime drama serial Rafferty – and it will dominate this tribute too. Read more

Oliver Postgate, RIP

Tuesday, December 9, 2008 by · 8 Comments 

Oliver Postgate, 1925-2008

Oliver Postgate, 1925-2008

It’s probably no exaggeration to say that for a generation, Oliver Postgate’s voice may well have been the first that they came to recognise after those of their immediate family. As creator, writer, narrator and director of some of the best loved and most regularly repeated children’s TV shows of all time – among them Bagpuss, The Clangers, Pogle’s Wood, Noggin The Nog and Ivor The Engine – he became one of the most instantly recognisable figures in television without ever really appearing in person. Read more

Bob Spiers, RIP

Monday, December 8, 2008 by · 1 Comment 

Bob Spiers: 1945-2008

Bob Spiers: 1945-2008

Owing to the sheer volume and quality of his work as a director and a producer, Bob Spiers was one of those people that you always pictured as being a lot older than they actually were. In a career that spanned four decades, he came in on one of the greats – Dad’s Army – and continued to produce popular and top rated shows throughout. Read more

The IT Crowd

Friday, August 24, 2007 by · Comments Off 

For all that certain commentators might have claimed to feel “betrayed” by the thought of erstwhile hard-hitting satirist Chris Morris appearing in a warm-hearted laugh track-enhanced sitcom, the first series of Graham Linehan’s The IT Crowd was an unexpected if thoroughly deserved hit. Read more

Dropped Clangers

Tuesday, May 29, 2007 by · Comments Off 

Apparently, tonight’s edition of Children’s TV on Trial, which covers the ’70s, will include a clip from the rare Clangers episode “Vote for Froglet”. Read more


Monday, January 1, 2007 by · 1 Comment 

Advancing years take away from us what we have inherited and give us what we have earned. Our relationship with television is a forever-burning example of this; the longer we feel we’ve hung around pouring our time and energy into watching it, the more we feel not merely blessed but actually owed an increasingly rarefied quality of enjoyment in return. Read more

Charlie Brooker’s Screen Wipe USA

Wednesday, August 16, 2006 by · Comments Off 

It’s amazing how a little bit of adversity can bring out the best in some people. Only a short while ago, largely thanks to his internet-based TV listings spoof TV Go Home, Charlie Brooker was the subject of widespread media attention and tipped for great things. Read more

Time Shift: Sun and Moon

Monday, March 6, 2006 by · Comments Off 

One of the great joys of BBC4 is that its schedulers and programme makers are never afraid to rummage around the dustier corners of the archives. Read more


Sunday, January 1, 2006 by · Comments Off 

Too much of anything is bad for you, as Stephen Fry once thundered, because that’s precisely what too much means: a quantity which is excessive. Too much water would be bad for you, because it would be too much. Fact. Read more

The Comic Strip Presents… Sex Actually

Wednesday, December 28, 2005 by · Comments Off 

Television revivals are difficult to pull off. Sometimes, if enough thought has gone into it and the wind is blowing in the right direction, a one-time laughing stock can be reborn as a massive ratings hit, heaped with praise and hailed as the saviour of Saturday night television. Other times, you can just end up with The Legacy of Reginald Perrin. Read more

Pete and Dud – The Lost Tapes

Monday, December 26, 2005 by · Comments Off 

Sometimes, giving a little context to repeats of old television shows can be a very useful thing. Read more

Arena: Dylan in the Madhouse

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 by · Comments Off 

“Come gather round, people, and hear what I say, ’bout the time Bob Dylan was in a BBC play, we’d all like to see it but they threw it away, and the tape it is a-missing”. Read more

Doctor Who

Saturday, May 21, 2005 by · Comments Off 

Back in 1963, the BBC ordered the removal of a sound effect representing a blow to the head from the first ever Doctor Who story. Read more

Nathan Barley

Friday, February 11, 2005 by · Comments Off 

Last time the general viewing public saw Chris Morris, he was riding a bike in shorts and refusing to talk about the Brass Eye special. Read more


Thursday, January 1, 2004 by · Comments Off 

On 21 April 2003, 16.7 million people tuned in to watch the makers of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire spend a couple of hours of primetime television outlining their role in one of the most notorious instances of rigging a quiz show in recent memory. Read more

My Wrongs #8425 – 8249 & 117

Thursday, July 31, 2003 by · Comments Off 

Outside represents Channel 4′s umpteenth attempt to create a late night “strand” devoted to cerebral, provocative or simply non-mainstream programming. Read more


Wednesday, January 1, 2003 by · Comments Off 

It’s the fourth time out for OTT’s annual review of the year’s television, and the fourth time we’ve started proceedings by considering Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Read more

Alt-TV: The Luckiest Nut in the World

Friday, August 30, 2002 by · Comments Off 

One of the great strengths of Channel 4 has always been that it can completely surprise you with a programme that you simply weren’t expecting to see. Read more

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