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tag: tv


English public information films of the 1970s

The best thing about YouTube is that it has encouraged an entire planet of VHS-hoarders to dig out and digitise terabytes' worth of apparently pointless historical video. And so it is that we are able to peer into the recent past at the trove of hilarity that is the 1970s English public information film. Most are furnished with a tone of utter condescension at their hapless, idiotic and utterly infantile public. We deserve it.

Fool for a father
"It's hard, having a fool for a father."

Electricy Hazards
"This man was safe. Until now."

Fatal Floor
"You might as well set a man-trap."

Old Fridges Can Kill
"Take off the door! Or smash the lock!"

Lonely Water
"I am the spirit of dark and lonely water..."

Rabies Outbreak
"Foxes will be destroyed."

Unashamedly inspired by this post by Robert Popper.

Goodbye, Tony Hart

Artist and "Hartbeat" present Tony Hart has died, aged 83. He was an inspiration to countless of the current generation of artists, young and old alike.

Goodbye, Tony Hart

Goodbye, Tony Hart!

Swarm: Nature's Incredible Invasions

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It's a modest new year's resolution of mine to make more of the bountiful resource that is BBC's iPlayer. Thanks to a tip-off from my folks, this was kicked off with last night's Swarm: Nature's Incredible Invasions: When Worlds Collide (baffling double-colon reproduced verbatim; watchable till 19 Jan 2009). Narrated by David Tennant, this nature documentary "reveals the awe-inspiring world of animal swarms", using a wide range of footage including aerial footage from within insect and bird flocks to illustrate its point.

Given that the subject matter is of such interest to me, it was a disappointing way to begin my iPlayer experience: in both tone and focus, it bore more resemblance to a US car-chase shock-doc than to the informative Attenborough fare that is more the norm for the BBC. Tossing aside any biological insights, it was merely a catalogue of the devastation that swarms can wreak on man and nature, albeit with some highly impressive film and stats to back it up -- one particularly striking scene showed amateur video of an Australian farmer lifting up a piece of corrugated iron to reveal a heaving throng of thousands of mice, like woodlice under a particularly large rock. Why not discuss the complex communications the determine the movements of killer bees, rather than just whacking on some gory footage of bee stings? Why not mention, even in passing, the stunning and unlikely evolutionary advantage given by the 17-year cycle of periodic cicada breeding? Here's hoping that next week's followup provides more in the way of factual background.

One feature that I did enjoy -- and another that it shared with the aforementioned US cop shows -- was its extensive use of amateur video, including mobile phone and camcorder footage of suburban infestations, accompanied by token doltish mumblings ("See that tree right there? It has.. lots and lots of cicadas on it."). It also featured the great sight of an endless stream of cars ploughing over a highway strewn with migrating land crabs. Yet, to really hammer home the point that this is AMATEUR FOOTAGE, the production company saw fit to superimpose illusory phone facias onto the wobbly video. Why?!

Fake phone