Wednesday, April 28, 2004

The Is This a Good Idea referendum

Initiated by Phill and formerly happening in the comments on my post on Shaun of the Dead. I would like to inform my avid readership (ahem) that we are holding a poll to see whether I should join the Labour Party. Please cast your yes or no vote in the comments above.

nb. Results are entirely non-binding,
and I'm absolutely not going to join the labour party under any circumstances.
Referendum is not endorsed by the Daily Mail.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Sidebar Madness

Ok, I think that should be it now...if it goes back, I'm never changing it again...

I need to know

Who's the person who hits the blog regularly with a direct hit who uses Firebird 1.5 as their internet browser and is it good ?

: )

Good newses for the Blueses

Cor - this is good news for the blues. Forsell has been really good this season and I'm ever so surprised that Chelski have let him stay on loan another year with Birmingham City. I think it mean means that Steve Bruce's team will be able to survive another season in the Premiership, although I'll be amazed if they do better than they've done this season.

I'm a big wuss

The interview on Oprah with the cast of Friends (which, should you be so inclined, you can find in eight parts here) genuinely made me a little emotional. If you are in the least bit cynical, don't watch it - you'll be sick. But I'm not at all cynical about public displays of emotion, so long as they are genuine and it choked me up just a little bit. In my defense I am a bit under the weather, and I think it also has something to do with the fact that the 10 years of friends has been quite a decade...Friends has, of course, long since jumped the shark but I remember how good it was in the beginning. I can also identify various series of Friends by what was happening in my life at the time. The first box set of series four, for example, came out during the three days I was working in a bingo hall...

Friday, April 23, 2004

Shaun of the Dead

Cor blimey it's good. Brilliantly shot (you'd expect no less from Edgar "Fried Gold" Wright ) brillantly written - painfully funny, bit gruesome for my tastes, but hey, it's a Rom Zom Com (or a Zom Rom Com?) and you can't do a zombie comedy without gore. The fact that it was made by the people who made the peerless, wondrous, up there with the best of them Spaced meant it was always going to be incredible, and it was. I really enjoyed the Spaced references - did anyone spot Tyres in the gathering of Zombies outside the Winchester? The chemistry between the Shaun and the Jessica Stephenson character was fabulous, and the Seinfeld-esque moment were they met the alternative gang led by her was beautiful. I'm running out of superlatives. It were a right good film anyway. And I'm sure Rich would like me to point out that there was a Ninja Tunes poster on the wall.

Cor blimey, the Showcase in Walsall is not good. Strange wobbly seats and lots of teenagers. The less said the better.

Music that's been blowing me all the heck away

16 Horsepower - Wayfaring Stranger
Alicia Keys - If I ain't got you
Blind Melon - Change
D12 - My Band
Dodgy - Melodies Haunt You
Glen Campbell - Wichita Lineman
Jeff Buckley - Hallelujah
Maria McKee - Wayfaring Stranger
Maria McKee - Wichita Lineman
Minnie Ripperton - Les Fleur
Nick Drake - Northern Sky
Otis Redding - A Change is Gonna Come
Paul Simon - The Obvious Child
Sarah McLachlan - In the Arms of the Angel
Schubert - Ave Maria
Willie Nelson - Don't Fence Me In
Willie Nelson - Me and Paul

Off to see Shaun of the Dead now...

Thursday, April 22, 2004's a shame...

This is great! What a nice off-licencse type person... I found it via b-may , who I'm pretty sure isn't Brian May from Queen. Unless he's got really into American politics.

Rongate and Racism....

My goodness me, it's a sad story. Ron Atkinson was heavily involved in the pioneering West Brom team of the late 70s, with the so-called "Three Degrees." These were Cyrille Regis, Laurie Cunningham and Brendan Batson, three black footballers who were at the forefront of a revolution which has led to the current situation in football, where England recently put out a team in which six of the eleven first team players were black.

Now, Ron is citing this as proof that he's not a racist, saying "If you look at my track record as a manager, I was one of the first managers in the game to give black players a chance." Why is racism seen in such a black and white way (I can't think of a better expression.) I see the use of racist swearwords in times of anger as indicative of a different sort of racism, not the overt idealogical racism of, for example, the BNP, but an ingrained and unconcious racism. The former would mean not picking black players because of believing them to be inferior to white players, but the latter is still an incredibly destructive force. It's the kind of racism that means most people in adverts are disproportionatelty white, judges and the police force are disproportionally white. It's the kind of racism that comes from the fact that really massively stereotyped portrayals of people of other colours and cultures are only a generation or two old. And Ron comes from that generation. As David Brent says "racism wasn't bad then." This character in the office is a classic example of the "I'm not a racist, some of my best friends are black" kind of mentality. And it expresses it with full credit to the true origin of this kind of racism - ignorance. The lack of exposure to multi-racial cultural influences, the lack of direct exposure of people from different backgrounds leads to that kind of sloppy ignorant thinking. And early cultural influences run deep and define you for a long time if you don't work hard at it - they come out when you aren't in full control of your faculties, at times of stress or anger. The only way to deal with racism like that is education and exposure, but it'll only work if people want it to.

In a side note, it's interesting to report that the papers have reported the story with the exact quote slightly differently worded. The quote from the Guardian, which can be found in this article has a lot of credibility I think, not least of all because it sounds so Ronesque. It's also an incredibly damaging version of the quote, as if it wasn't bad enough, because there's a lot of brain processing and decision making needed to frame a sentence like that and then say it. It makes his position pretty indefensible, in terms of his claim not to be a racist. He's clearly a racist, but I imagine he doesn't know what that really means.

I suppose in the end, I feel a bit sorry for him, in the way that I often feel sorry for people that have done wrong by others as much as those whom they have wronged - because wrong actions are so often driven by a lack of good things, like knowledge, or sensitivity, or access to truth and end up hurting the proponent as much as the recipient.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

They are so so so good

A new strong bad email is a thing of beauty to behold.

Django Reinhardt

If you have any interest in unbelievably amazin'ly swingin' geetar playin' then you should really check him out

Blair, Europe, etc

So, no reverse gear, but a nifty line in constitutional U-Turns. We're gonna have a referendum on one of the most complicated documents in the history of international politics. Sounds like a good idea to me. No, but seriously folks, I'm pleased in a way - he's finally grabbing the bull by the horns and having a go at persuading what could broadly described as the right of the benefits of an apparently unpopular policy. You go Tony... Chris Patten said some interesting stuff on five live this afternoon about how bady let down those political opponents of Blair who'd stood with him on the Euro felt by his apparent abandoning of it and how he would want to be very sure of the Blair position before standing on a platform with him. Now, there is obviously some doubt about how much of a loss this is to the yes camp, but I found the way it hinted at frustrations amongst the pro-European tories interesting... They must have a lot to be frustrated about as it is, mind...

Anyway, I don't really understand the whole thing - anyone want to explain it to me so I don't have to go so far as to actually read stuff?


Oh dear oh dear. Claudio's gone and tinkered himself out of a job. It's not like this isn't going to be written in every major organ of sports reporting tomorrow, but the man does appear to have just suffered from some kind of spontaneously combustable brain trouble at half time. Chelski were comfortably in control having started appalingly, gone down to a poorly defended set piece and then pulled it back to 1-1. With Big Ron apologising for "harking" on about Desailly defending too far up the pitch (don't apologise for it, just stop - and am I not right in thinking it's harPing on?), and Lampard playing like he "owned the place" they were well on top when half time came.

And then he brought on Veron. To play on the left wing. Not, you understand, taking one of the following options available to him - a. LEAVE IT THE HECK ALONE, b. if you really must, bring on Veron to play in the middle of the park or c. bring on Joe Cole, who has the advantage of both being able to play in the position and having played more than five minutes football in the last 6 months. And it all began to fall apart. But, sorry as I feel for Claudio, Chelski deserved everything that was coming to them. Claude Makelele patted a monaco player's cheek. Said Monaco player gave him a gentle clip round the ear in return, at which point Makelele realised what had just happened and collapsed on to the ground as if he'd been whacked with a 2x4, getting the Monaco player sent off. Rivaldoesque. I lost all sympathy with the Chelski cause at that moment, and was faintly pleased to see Monaco run out 3-1 winners.

Back from London Village

Well, I'm back from London - nice to see da famly... Did manage to get some work done with my dad - we went through a budget breakdown for a project on a vaguely similar scale to mine. It was important to see up to date, realistic and UK based prices for crew and film stock. Cor, it costs a lot to make a movie...Also had a bit of a break through in terms of some re-writes with James, he re-wrote a scene and then I re-wrote his re-writes and now he's re-writing my re-writ...well, you get the idea...Also done a bit of "blue sky thinking" (ack, bad phrase) about the film, and have had some big ideas. I should really get started on them tomorrow - I'll let you know if I do...

Friday, April 16, 2004

The One and Only Watso!

Well, what an interesting evening I had yesterday - went to the pub (!?!?) with Phill to meet Tom Watson, ostensibly to talk about blogging and politics and things like that. I, of course, drank water all night (got through 2 litres man, hardcore...) but the evening began to take a turn for the more rambunctious (gently rambunctious admittedly, but rambunctious none-the-less) when several of the regulars and the landlord came over to join us.

The evening started with me and Phill wondering if we were in the right place, until getting a text from "Watso" (who's only known as Watso to me and Phill, but still) saying he was on his way. The pub is on West Bromwich High Street and we were sat in the small bar in the front, with posters of old west bromwich decorating the walls and people milling around the bar (see what I did there, I set the scene...) When Tom arrived we pretty quickly began talking about politics, and it was basically a dream come true for me, a chance to talk openly and honestly with a committed and passionate politician about the big issues of the day (all off the record so I'm not going to relay any of it here!) We also talked about blogging a bit and he recommended Clive Soley's blog as a thoughtful and insightful example of political blogging. He also recommended Mighty Girl for its take on human interaction. He turned out to be (as I suspected he would) a really nice guy.

Anywhoo, after sometime we were joined by some more people, two of whom were described to me as local legends - Finbar the Irish landlord of the pub (who said to me "Me and the bookies have an arrangement - I give him all me money, and he sends me a diary every year") and Tweedale "That's Tweed like the jacket and ale like the ale - the only Tweedale in the Birmingham phone book") a 72 year old ex-headteacher and rock-climber who told me several stories. The best of these was the story of a time he was rock-climbing (they were all basically about times he was rock climbing). Any way, on this one occasion, his friends had taken a different route down the mountain to him, and he ended up in a field, where he happened upon a young lady. They got to talking, and were getting on like a house on fire, when lo-and-behold, and aide appeared and said to the young lady - "Another cup of tea Miss Bergman?". Now is that a good story or what? She was in the middle of filming The Inn of the Sixth Happiness at the time. When the evening was winding up, he said to me "Listen, I don't normally proselytize like this, but, you know, you can tell when someone belongs, and I know you belong in the Labour party." He then uttered words, which though lacking in apparent logic, and definitely not true, formed one of the finest sentences I've ever heard.

"If you think about it, just stop and think about it. I mean really think about it, for long enough - you will definitely become a member of the Labour Party."

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

~Film Latest~~Ranting on about television latest~~Yesterday it was my birthday~

~Film Latest~

Had a meeting with James on Monday, which I think will be seen as a turning point (by me!) in years to come. We took the script to town (it had a lovely time) and tried to justify every scene, and had a good look at the over-arching plot lines. We've decided to write a few new scenes to punch up the love story (as I imagine they say in Hollywood). We're also going to build in a whole new sub-plot - it's exciting, as I've known for ages that there were some big re-writes to be done, but I just haven't been sure how to approach it. I guess its one of those things where time plays its part; the first flushes of finishing the first draft (and indeed making some big changes to that) have worn off and the cold light of day is shining a clear light on the strengths and weaknesses of the piece. I'm going to try to get some of the new scenes done before the weekend when I go to London and see my Dad - I've booked half a day with him on film stuff, and for the rest of the time I'm there I'm going to rest and get some quality family time in.

~Ranting on about television latest~

Watched Hawking last night. It does seem there's a lot more drama on at the moment - a lot of it is docu-drama, and the programmes which aren't docu-drama are mostly shot like they are. But I thought Hawking was a cut above - it told the story of world famous scientist (!) Steven Hawking, from his diagnosis with MND to his "proving" that there was a beginning to the Universe, and that it was a big bang. It was mostly shot very intimately, lots of wobbly hand held stuff, but not too wobbly, if you know what I mean. There was also an absolutely remarkable performance from a young actor I've never heard of called Benedict Cumberbatch whose physical acting was fantastic, very naturalistic and unobtrusive. Anywhom, it's nice to see quality work being done out there...

~Yesterday it was my birthday~

As the Paul Simon song goes, a whole one more year on the line...Went to a garden centre in Earlswood with my mum to pick up my present, a bird table!! Woot! My PC is in front of some sliding glass doors, looking out onto the garden, so watching birdies eat will provide a fine distraction from doing real work...

Sunday, April 11, 2004


Just a brief post as it's late and I'm tired - I've spent the evening at my friend Rich's house. He has put together an EP of electronic music which is truly truly truly brilliant. I mean brilliant - hopefully he'll put it on the web somewhere and then I'll link to it. I listened to it on the way back in the car and it knocked my socks off. He's using the name Ideosphere which is pretty groovy I think. I'm partly posting this so that if anyone googles it they'll find this post and know that it's been taken! (note to self, find out if "Googles" should have an apostrophe...)

Am glad to see that he didn't use my suggestion for a name - "DJ Mustard"...On the plus side though, he could have called his first album Cress, then Wholegrain, then Dijon (lots of acordian sounds and corks popping), then German - eventually though he'd have had to release an album called French's American Yellow and that doesn't have the best ring to it...

Right, bedtime.

Save Claudio!

Ok - I've found out where to go to help Save Claudio

Friday, April 09, 2004

Westwood, West Wing, Willie Nelson

Currently listening to: Incredibly anarchic and unprofessional and entertaining radio - D12 on the Westwood show...Eminem just burped - he's the voice of the generation you know. He's freestyling now - very funny indeed, and incredibly talented.

Have been listening to: Willie Nelson's cover of the Kermit the Frog classic "Rainbow Conncection." Sarah McLachlan and the Bare Naked Ladies doing "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." 4 Hero's remix of Minnie Riperton's Les Fleur (her lack of pluralisation!)

Have been watching: Unbelievably large quantities of episodes of The West Wing. The fifth series is coming in for a huge amount of criticism from the fans I have been watching some of the early Sorkin episodes and they are definately right - the Sorkin West Wing was transendent (shout out to James!) and the Wells West Wing is just a television programme, but I'd not go as far as asking them to cancel it - too much of a fanboy.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Great Stuff

Just found this links page on a H*R wiki (whass a wiki?) I'm adding to it my sidebar!

Currently listening to: Ramos and Supreme "Gotta Believe" From Dreamscape Volume 1, Disc 1 "Happy Hardcore" One big 'ardcore famly!!!

Wednesday, April 07, 2004


I mean....


If only they'd do a movie one...


Reading Eats, Shoots and Leaves at the moment, and have grammar on the brain - was surprised to get the best possible result from this quiz I'm a grammar God apparently...

My favourite footballer of all time, without question...

"It is like when you are with a woman you love and she don't love you anymore. It is better not to see her."

You've got to love Eric

Oh yeah!

flash sonic the hedgehog - anyone got some time to kill? (Got the link from Danger! High Postage!)

Do you write like a girl?

Find out here! I tried two entries and both came out as male.


It occurs to me that it's mentioned in my tagline, but I don't really talk much about it - I thought I'd redress the balance a bit!

I've been practicing Raj Yoga Meditation as taught by the Brahma Kumaris for four years (almost to the day). For some people, meditation is a hobby, something they do to unwind, and face the stresses and complexities of modern life. This is partly true for me too, but its more than that - it's a lifestyle choice, and it informs decisions I make throughout my life. I was, it's fair to say, drifting pretty aimlessly before I began to practice. I gave up smoking (both regular and jazz cigarrettes!) about the same time I started to meditate (a few days after in fact). For the few years before I stopped smoking, my taste for Mary Jane was seriously undermining my ability to function properly. At it's worst, I was smoking half an ounce of skunk a week, which is plenty enough to interfere with your day to day life - there are certainly people that smoke more than that, but I'd say I was in the 80 percentile...

It was a series of events that conspired to take me from the life I was living then to the much more clean living me you find today. I met a therapist who was clearly a very special person, and underwent a course of counselling which allowed me to begin to address the extremely complex childhood I'd had. At the end of that therapy I mentioned that I'd like to look into some kind of meditation - he said he'd done a bit of investigation when he was my age, and had settled on Raja Yoga as the path for him. Since I respected his opinion I asked him if he'd teach me, which he did. The course I took was seven weeks long and changed my whole life. It covered a whole range of topics, philosophical and practical and made a lot of sense to me (although it was also pretty challenging.) Anyway, by and by I decided I'd give the whole process a go, and made some big lifestyle changes and began to practice meditation. It came to me slowly (it's still coming) but I began to experience some of the incredible joy and power of the meditative experience and I decided to put it at the forefront of my life. I meditate every day, for at least an hour, and ideally more - mostly in the early hours of the morning, before the day proper begins.

Some days, I don't bother, and I always regret it, because the burdens of the day are inevitably heavier to carry. Meditation has made me lighter, happier, and more able to make being positive minded into a practical and solid reality, rather than an aim. There's still a long way to go, but it's better than it was...

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

The footie

Good game tonight. I don't know where to go to sign up for the "Keep Claudio at Chelski" campaign, but if I did, I'd be first in line. I just think he's a really nice guy, incredibly animated and passionate in victory, and as Des said tonigt, incredibly dignified in the face of what must be pretty intolerable speculation. He's also always gracious in defeat, unlike some people *coughArseneWengercough* who for all his major qualities as a manager does not seem to understand that taking losing well is a sign of greatness too. Sport is always prone to ups and downs, and you need to "treat both imposters the same" as Kipling very nearly said. For all his faults, SirAlex does admit it when his team is outplayed (although he would probably prefer to blame the ref if at all possible.)

Arsenal's capitulation in the second half tonight reflected their similar capitulation at Villa Park at the weekend - Thierry Henry looked very off colour in both games, and although Reyes looked bright this evening, and was rewarded with a deserved goal, the Chelsea defence looked extremely solid. I was with them all the way tonight, but I'll never root for them again if they sack Ranieri ...

Film stuff

Not that much to report, but some - have been doing some more storyboarding with James and had a bit of a breakthrough in regards to the sequence of the film I've been having the most trouble with - from about the 5th to 15th minutes. The breakthrough came by looking at the shot by shot breakdown - James had some great ideas about how to shoot a particular section which has envigorated the whole sequence. I've also borrowed a book called Shooting to Kill about independent film making (more on that as I read it!) and arranged to meet my dad for a bit of a production masterclass. It's all progress.

Monday, April 05, 2004

I've made someones blog roll!

Woot! Huzzah! Yipee! The blog linking to me is here

I'm going to start updating my links soon...they're looking a bit tired.

What a long weekend that was

Friday seems like several months ago. Yesterday I spent the day helping Graham move in to his new house at the top of a big hill with an amazing view in Oldbury. I've discovered that you can fit a fridge in my car (I don't mean fit one for use on long journeys, I mean fit one in for transportation.)

Listened to five live whilst doing the washing up yesterday morning. There was a debate about immigration. It's an issue which concerns me a lot - not so much the issue actually, more the representation of it. As far as I have gathered, the Beverly Hughes thing all centres on the fact that the government's publicly stated position differed from their actual policy. Now, it's pretty clear that this is essentially an unsustainable position, and lies at the heart of the apparent distrust felt by the public at large about politics in general and, increasingly, this government in particular. However, in this case, whilst I'd never say it was a good idea, I do understand the government's predicament. After all, large swathes of the population, fed by a basically racist right wing media frezny, are clearly concerned about immigration and this leaves the government in what appears to be its least favourite position - having to offend the socially conservative (as opposed to say, the econonomically conservative.) It doesn't appear to have the same concerns about offending the socially liberal (Iraq, tuition fees, foundation hospitals etc etc) presumably because it feels that essentially it will never be deserted by enough of them, and perhaps also because there is the belief that social liberalism is in the minority in this country, at least when it comes to picking governments. The government have made some important "liberal" concessions - gay partnerships, the cannabis reclassification, probably some other things I can't think of at the moment, but on asylum and immigration, their rhetoric is slightly to the right of Thatcher.

But is that helping the asylum and immigration situation and the relationships between different ethnic, national and religious groups here? The Hughes business shows how in some cases at least they feel this hardline talk is unenforcable in practice. And the massive social problems caused by immigration and asylum are not made any better by the government sounding like the Daily Mail. It's easier for the government to hide behind the small minded rhetoric than it is to say "look, we need to take a bunch of people who look a bit different and understand God in a different way, but man, that's what this country is based on" because it polls a lot better with the focus groups. But politics should not always be about pandering to mass opinion, because mass opinion is (shock horror) not always based on real wisdom - its formed by education, newspapers, televisions, and life experiences. Some people think long and hard about the beliefs they hold, and where those beliefs originate but some people never do, and this is where the government can play a roll in changing and forming opinion. They must believe that too, because otherwise why would Blair have gone on television and held public debates on tuition fees and Iraq. Wait a minute - both of those are issues which cause more concern to the socially liberal "left wing" agenda. Blair has spent all of his leadership career winning over the left in his own party- clause 4 being a prime example. Maybe he needs to start believing he can win over the right too.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Ok ok ...

Neither Ruud nor Henry started...I did say I'd regret my prediction...and we won!! Great game too..bring on Millwall and/or Sunderland

Semi final day today

Wenger's been at the old "mind games" saying that Thierry might be rested...sorry to go all Wayne's World, but Shyeah, Right and monkeys might etc etc...Now Fergie's at it too, saying that Ruud is a serious injury doubt. I hereby predict they will both be in the starting line up. (I hereby predict I will regret saying "I hereby predict") Having watched the game last weekend, United looked fairly solid defensively (Wes Brown had a great game, Silvestre an average one) but until Fergie brought on Solskjaer and Saha they really lacked goal threat. Unlike Arsenal who as per usual looked very dangerous on the break. When Wenger had made his bizarro world substitutions, and Fergie had put on the aforementioned, it was a totally different game. Sadly of course, Saha is cup tied so won't play today, but lets hope Ruud is fit and he plays ole on the right....

Is this a good idea?

Am thinking of creating a political party out of bits of Old Labour, the Greeens, the Lib Dems and the Natural Law party....Might call it the Old Green Natural Democrats - surely it would get a couple of curiosity votes?

Friday, April 02, 2004

This is never right...

Sorry, I know I've already posted a link to this site whilst mentioning Mrs Mangel, but what in the name of all that is good and true is going on here?!?!?!?


Last time I listened to the news, Beverly Hughes was in the commons, "bullishly" declaring that she wasn't going to resign because her conscience was clear. Now she is going to resign because apparently it isn't. What a difference a day makes...

And they wonder why I don't vote...

Michael Grade

So, it looks like Michael Grade will be the new Chairman of the BBC . I hope this turns out to be true, as he's got a really excellent track record. It was him who, as Director-General of the Beeb, moved Neighbours to its 5.35pm slot, rescuing it from mid morning obscurity and exposing a whole generation to Mrs Mangel (my goodness me that's a scarily detailed site!)

Ok, perhaps that's not his finest achievement but in all seriousness, I think it's an excellent sign that the BBC haven't been too emasculated (for wont of a better word) by Hutton. After all, Grade fought tooth and nail to ensure Channel 4's financial freedom from the ITV networks in the early nineties (earning C4 a whole load of money which the next guy Michael "Wacko" Jackson frittered away on e4 and the rapid expansion and then collapse of Film Four.) He was also a vigorous exponent of freedom of expression, and was extremely supportive of the channel's drama output.

Anyway - let's hope it doesn't turn out to be a false alarm....

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Transatlantic Cultural Relationships

This is a post about a collection of thoughts and theories that have been knocking round my head for a while!

Much has been written about the cross-proliferation of cultural influences in popular music between Britain and the US. In the 50s, American Rock n Roll inspired a generation of teenagers who grew up to be the "Beatles and the Stones and the Who, who went to America, and inspired a generation of musicians who became the Beach Boys and the Byrds. Dylan went electric partly as a result of listening to the Beatles, and the Beatles started writing grown up, introspective and intelligent music partly as a result of listening to Dylan. A generation in the UK who grew up listening to Public Enemy and NWA and De La Soul went on to invent drum n bass, and that went back to America an informed a whole bunch of RnB producers when it came to their beats. The Sex Pistols begat Nirvana and Nirvana begat Oasis and Oasis wait, scratch that one...Ah well, there's an exception to every rule

Broadly speaking, I think it's probably also fair to say there have been times when America was where interesting music was happening on a large scale, and times when Manchester or London or Coventry was. (ok, Coventry was one band, and not for that long, but how much do the Specials rock!?!)

Lately, I've noticed a similar phenomenon (doo doo do doo doo - forth post down...) in television, particularly in comedy and drama. In the best british sitcoms poll thingy, 8 out of the top 10 were made in the 70s or 80s, an era of really strong British Sit Coms - Fawlty Towers, Only Fools and Horses, Butterflies, etc etc which were incredibly high quality. In the 80s and early 90s, British television drama was also incredibly strong (and excuse the family bias in this list) with programmes like A Very British Coup, Traffik, Boys from the Blackstuff, GBH, Tales of the City, Dennis Potter's work for both the BBC and C4, and occasionally both at the same time.

Then it all went a bit flat drama wise. And although some great work was done in more "culty" type programmes, in terms of massive mainstream but high quality work, there was less going on in sit com too.

But as this was happening here, in the states, in terms of comedy shows like Seinfeld, the first few series of Friends, and Frasier which were intelligent and witty were hitting the heights. And then, without any prior warning, the US began to make some fantastic drama series. These are not like their UK counterparts, in that they tend to be long running, but they do draw heavily on the influences of the British drama series listed above. The television adaptation of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City, a Channel 4 series made by working title, a British company, but shot in the states, and set in the states was a minor success in the UK, but it was a big hit on PBS in the America. It was revolutionary in terms of American television in that it dealt very openly with homosexuality and recreational drug use. The massive recent hit US Six Feet Under is partly a big success because of the furrow ploughed by this British series. It also draws heavily on the work of Dennis Potter - the characters break in to song in sequences that could be straight out of Pennies from Heaven, the Singing Detective or Lipstick on Your Collar.

Aaron Sorkin has talked about how The West Wing (along with Seinfeld my very favourite American television programme of all time) was influenced by the equally wonderful "A Very British Coup" in which an idealistic left winger becomes prime minister. Incidentally, I just did a search for very british coup and the west wing in quotes and came up with amongst many other things that on the peopler that bought British Coup on DVD also bought the West Wing and an article by my dad which says basically what I've said here - but I didn't know that before I started writing!).

And of course, last but not least, they made a movie of Traffik and have now made a miniseries. (A miniseries based on a movie based on a mini-series - only in America.)

And I hope, I sincerely hope, that some of this will re-inspire British writers and executives - there's some recent evidence of this - Shameless, Passer By (which I managed to miss), Hustle (only kidding - no link for this one - it's a bug bear of mine!) - maybe there'll be some good stuff back on British TV that wasn't made in the states!

Here endeth the drivelling on about television! I don't care if you agree with my thesis, but you've got to be impressed by all those links ;)