More musings on Doctor Who and national identity from me have been published at John Connors's Time Lines blog. I've written an introduction with more ideas at The Event Library, and the posts themselves are available at part two and part three.
The first part of a series of musings on Doctor Who and British identity, at John Connors's Timelines blog, originally commissioned by John for the fanzine Plaything of Sutekh which he co-edited with Richard Farrell. A short introduction can be found at The Event Library, too.
On Tuesday night I was discussing broadcasting history with someone and mention was made of Asa Briggs. Within an hour his death was announced. A few hours later, I learned of Sylvia Anderson's death; and now, Cliff Michelmore, a broadcaster who was moving into a retirement phase in my childhood but who still loomed large. The sense of twentieth-century Britain tidying up after itself through the death of people who seemed to epitomise aspects of the mid-late century spirit which animated last year is even stronger this. Some links:

The BBC Archive Cliff Michelmore page

Cliff Michelmore switches off Lime Grove studios, The Late Show, 1991

Cliff Michelmore interviews David Jones (the future David Bowie), Tonight, 1964

The Shadows: 'Lady Penelope' from Thunderbirds are Go - shared by [twitter.com profile] outonbluesix as a tribute to her alter ego, Sylvia Anderson

Sylvia Anderson interviewed for the third or fourth generation of fans of Lady Penelope and Thunderbirds, Blue Peter, 1995

I've not watched this, but here's Asa Briggs in discussion early last year at the University of Sussex

An episode of The Seven Ages of Radio with Asa Briggs, starting with part of one of my favourite broadcasting quotations from David Dunhill, with added Tony Blackburn, though the structure of the series seems somewhat pessimistic.

While I'm making a link post, here's a Kickstarter worth exploring: Duel for Citizenship by Holly Matthies
"As the antients had their Capitoline and their Olympian Jupiter, so we had our virgin of Winchester and our virgin of Walsingham: and as there were temples to the Capitoline Jupiter in other places, as well as on the Capitoline hill, and one at Athens in particular; so we had places dedicated to the virgin of Winchester, in other places as well as Winchester; and one at Oxford in particular. The society at Oxford (to which I am obliged more than I could easily express, for passing the best part of my life, in a most agreeable manner) was established before the light of the Reformation had begun to dawn on England; by one of the noblest patrons of learning, that ever was. As he was, in those times, bishop of Winchester, he founded a seminary there; and a college to be supplied with students from it, at Oxford. This college, at Oxford, was dedicated Sanctae Mariae Wintoniensi; and both of them are called, the two St. Mary-Winton colleges, on some occasions, to this day."

---Joseph Spence Polymetis (1747), p 48 note 7
"Time-serving reviewers, those sensitive registers of the day-to-day changes in current and temperature, no longer invite their readers to sneer at Mr. Leavis, and Cambridge seems to be becoming increasingly aware to whom it owes its international reputation for English studies. The Leavis case is fortunately the rare one of the obnoxious character holding on until in the course of time it has become apparent that he is a great man and must be admitted, however reluctantly, into the fold, if only to avert scandal."
---H.A. Mason, 'F.R. Leavis and Scrutiny', The Critic, 1/2, Autumn 1947, p. 21
A gift in pdf from the BBC Genome team: the Christmas Radio Times of 1923. More is explained at the BBC Genome blog. This is the era of the BBC as monopoly private company rather than autonomous corporation and that's reflected in the business-led feature writing which opens the magazine; but there are contributions too from Ramsay Macdonald, a few weeks away from becoming first Labour prime minister, and Lilian Bayliss of the Old Vic, as well as various broadcasters including several of the uncles and aunts of the regional stations. The adverts are revealing of a vanished time; the listings show that a simultaneous broadcast of Shakespeare recitals by Sir Frank Benson was taken by most stations, intriguingly for me coming from 5NO in Newcastle; 5WA in Cardiff offers A Christmas Carol instead. Although not the modern Woman's Hour, which did not begin until the 1940s, there is a Women's Hour, but it only seems to last thirty minutes. Christmas Day itself is one of a Christmas party and religious messages, including one specifically aimed at children.
Sadly this report is not what was expected, as instead of being at Heathrow, I am elsewhere in London recovering from a bout of ill health overnight. Everything seems to be going well from what I can gather on Twitter; and I'm sorry to have missed the discussion on whether history is a science, with relation to Doctor Who, reminding me of studying the Annalistes as a first-year undergraduate.
Technology problems mean that this is being written on a phone rather than a laptop... But it's all wonderful, despite my not being able to get into a panel this evening on the fantasy of white history - I've come across a black West Indian Anglican clergyman in Bath and Wells diocese in the 1690s and would have liked to have thrown him into the mix. Instead, I attended a Star Trek novels panel, which was informative and fun though I'm not familiar with very many of the characters post-TNG so didn't get all the Garak jokes. Earlier, the Doctor Who panels were huge successes, particularly that on transhumanism where I think every seat was filled, and also the earlier session on Peter Capaldi's Doctor, or Lord Peter as two of the panellists chose to call him... The historical movies panel was good, too, with much to reflect on about what a historical film is and how 'period' drama can be read, but presented in a way which could in no way be considered dry... Oh, and I took photographs for some witches.

Tomorrow, much more including a panel which I've been specifically asked go attend...
"be ashured I shall give my consent to mary to no man till I be tuenty yiers of ag, and then I hop in God I shall not be in great danger of bearing bairns. I got word from Dr Waderburn that if I maried now I should haserd both my oun life and my chyld's".
--Margaret Leslie, countess of Leven in her own right, to her aunt Catherine, countess of Melville, 31 July 1673. Lady Leven was right; she was forced by her tutor (guardian) the earl of Rothes to marry his nephew, and died the next year soon after the birth of a child who did not survive. See Scots Peerage, vol. 5, p. 380.

(posted elsewhere yesterday; apologies for the repetition)
Election 2015: Your complete guide to predictions about Scotland and the SNP
Depressing stuff for all manner of reasons, and not necessarily the obvious ones.

Vince Cable says LibDem-SNP deal is inconceivable
Better to lock your enemy into an agreement, I'd have thought, other than antagonise probably half if not more of the Scottish electorate.

Scotland's deficit is now at the heart of the general election fight
Or it might be. My reading of SNP policy beneath the anti-austerity headlines is much as Magnus Gardham writes here.

Last week, Kenneth Baker called for a Tory-Labour coalition to stop the end of the United Kingdom
Firstly, that's really the kingdom of Great Britain (in its parliamentary aspect)[1] Baker supposedly wants to save (though it has little institutional trace beyond legislation passed between 1707 and 1800, unlike Scotland, England-and-Wales, England, Wales and Northern Ireland and variations of the above) as one of the constituent elements of the United Kingdom, not the end of the United Kingdom itself which would presumably continue with smaller component parts. I suspect that a Tory-Labour coalition, facing an SNP with the largest possible share of Scottish seats envisaged by the first link in this post, might just confirm SNP voters' suspicion of the Anglocentricity of Labour and the Conservatives and confirm the sort of proprietorship of 'Tory shires' assumed as natural by John Major in this speech last week. Proportional representation can't come soon enough to the United Kingdom parliament, and it might save the broad but in many crucial parts very thin bases of the Conservative and Labour parties and transform them into more effective advocates of their constituencies; but we seem further away from it than ever.

SNP will not contest Berwick election seat
Apologies for any overenthusiastic advertising Johnston Press foist upon readers if they follow this link. Announced back in December, and pity in a way, as Christine Grahame's appearance ("Oh, we won't stop being British...") on BBC North East [England] and Cumbria's pre-referendum special illustrated how complicated the SNP and broader Yes campaign's approach to the political relationships of the people of these islands can or could be. I'm glad as a near-contemporary of mine from my school is inheriting the defence of the seat from the retiring MP and she has a hard fight which an SNP candidate in Berwick upon Tweed (a constituency which covers a larger slice of Northumberland than its name suggests) would make harder.

[1] Interesting point. In the period 1603-1707, Scottish and English commentators alike wrote of the king or queen of Great Britain (having stopped James VI and I declaring himself Caesar and British Emperor) and there were periods in the seventeenth century, particularly when monarchical power was at whatever zeniths it could reach, that the kingdom of Great Britain seemed a real political entity with an emerging class of Scoto-English courtier administrators. The Union came about in part because after the revolutions of 1688-90 the Scottish parliament and elite found it had little leverage on royal foreign policy, in contrast to the parliament of England, and the political nation (more regularly organised and in some senses broader than the English) was susceptible to foolhardy exercises like the Darien venture, which came across to the more cosmopolitan part of the elites as a doomed exercise in saying 'Let's have a war with Spain and embarrass the king and his English friends'[2] but which could easily be interpreted in Scotland as an example of England repressing Scottish imperial aspirations.

[2] Some of what I've termed the cosmopolitan elite thought this was a very good idea, of course, especially if they were called Hamilton. Or so it sometimes appears; but Scottish political alliances were complicated, shifted often, and were not to be taken for granted, especially by remote Londoners. A lesson for the present.

ETA A characteristically cleverly boorish Salmond column reacting just as I'd expect him to the Kenneth Baker proposal - but even with votes his party enjoys the SNP is not Scotland, just as Margaret Thatcher forgot (if she ever knew) that the Conservative Party did not equal England which was not the same as Britain or the United Kingdom. However, the move present in some SNP utterances in recent months to adopt a pan-British agenda, as leaders of an insurgency against 'Westminster', is present in the column and shows that this party has learned some of the lessons Conservative and Labour seem never to have known, and which the Liberal Democrats appear to be forgetting.
In seventeenth-century Britain a change from one denomination to another threatened not just eternal damnation but damage to one's material condition in the present. This was especially true in Scotland where the identity of the Scottish Church was more contested than it was in England and the elite arguably broader and more fissured. In 1688 Walter Ogilvy, Lord Deskford, eldest son and heir of James Ogilvy, third earl of Findlater, converted to Catholicism from the (then episcopal) Church of Scotland. This is how his father warned his younger son James (later first earl of Seafield and eventually fourth earl of Findlater) about the danger his eldest son posssessed, and how they needed to rapidly exclude him from inheriting the family estates:

I cannot but desier you to remmeber to consult your bussines of the convayence of my esteat in your person; for although Walter be nou in my house, yett be his still frequenting the Popish chappell and continouing in odd and most unacountable actions, ther can be no good expected of him so ye need to be the mor circumspect in garding your selfe against his evell.

---The Correspondence of James First Earl of Seafield, pp 42-43

(Charles II appears in the userpic in the absence of his brother James VII and II, then reigning.)
The userpic associated with this post is from a Doctor Who comic strip drawn by Gerry Haylock for TV Action, and Countdown to TV Action by Steve Holland tells the story of this comic and its first incarnation Countdown. Unexpected characters in its tale are Rupert Murdoch (whose role in the decline and demise of TV21 I had not known) and John Selwyn Gummer; the enterprise seemed based on poor market research, nostalgia for happy working conditions at former employers (especially the pre-Murdoch TV [Century] 21) and a publisher which was focused on editorial, advertising and circulation being dealt with by its parent who commandeered pages as required. Good to see a picture of Polly Perkins House, the office of Polystyle Publications for most of the 1970s, too - I'd wondered where it was for years, and had been misled by its 'Paddington Green' address, because strictly speaking it isn't there. Holland specialises in the indexing of British comics and there are full content listings and many, many reproductions of art, though apart from the cover it's in black and white. Nevertheless it's a valuable addition to Paul Scoones's The Comic Strip Companion, the first volume of which looks at Doctor Who in the pages of TV Comic, Countdown and TV Action, a must for historians of the creations of Gerry Anderson (whose characters and series were the original lead features of Countdown) a strong source of information about the careers of several British comic professionals and the comics industry in the early 1970s, though being me I have to note that the common ownership of Polystyle and TV Publications (from whom Polystyle 'bought' TV Comic, Playland and Pippin in 1968) isn't picked up, nor the nature of Independent Television Publications (a subsidiary of the ITV companies acting together under the ITA's supervision) and its acquisition of TV Times from TV Publications in 1968 quite understood. The shake-up of the youth market from ITP's Look-In is a constant presence and one Polystyle never quite dealt with - Look-In relied on more than constant promotion on ITV to help it, but its rivals could never get past that fact, it seems.
True Fire by Gary Meehan. Teenage pregnancy in rural fantasy setting turns rapidly into a kind of Meg Rossoff's How I Live Now with crossbows and swords and a political-religious movement which makes Boko Haram, ISIS, the Lord's Resistance Army and their likes seem positively cuddly. With an eye to film adaptations, there's a strong supporting role for a fortysomething woman good at archery and being drunk.

The Sea-Stone Sword by Joel Cornah. I've not really started this one yet, but every time I open it I see a fannish reference to some other text. From a smaller publisher and definitely aimed at transmedia-literate genre fans, but with its own narrative concerns too.

Doctor Who Magazine 475; not a book but more words than many of them; the first part of a more-detailed-than-usual interview with Terrance Dicks and the second part of Andrew Cartmel's interviews with the writers he worked with as script editor in the McCoy period add more insight to two already well-explored periods of Doctor Who history. New to me were the suggestion that the insistence in the early 1970s on a 'family' television label and the research to show that most of Doctor Who's audiemce were adult was in part a rebuff to takeover attempts on Doctor Who by the renascent BBC Television children's department (imagine Jon Pertwee arriving at Television Centre to find that his producer is not Barry Letts but [yes, I know she didn't do drama really] Biddy Baxter...), Ben Aaronovitch's belief that in practical terms writing for Doctor Who set his career back twenty years, and The Greatest Show in the Galaxy emerging as a way for Andrew Cartmel to kill an idea John Nathan-Turner had commissioned from Stephen Wyatt while Cartmel was on holiday, for a three-part story to be made entirely in the Doctor Who Exhibition at Longleat House. Oh, and much Vastra, Jenny and Strax, too, with an interview with their real-life alter-egos and a comic strip starring them, with no sign of the Doctor.

Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness by Maira Kalman. Jefferson is one of those annoying historical figures who can seem so modern and contemporary and yet their careers, their personalities, privileges and weaknesses show that they are their own. Kalman's illustrated children's book on Abraham Lincoln was fascinating and this imagines a Jefferson who said kind words to his (enslaved black) cooks and seemed to live more hours than exist in the day while enjoying both a full political life as well as pursuing his cultural interests, as well as amorous ones: Sally Hemings appears and the opportunity is taken to explain what "pass for white" meant and why it was important in a "PREJUDICED LAND" (Kalman's capitals). My teeth are set on edge by the mention of "the tyrannical rule of an English king" (far too hard on conscientious George III) Above all, Kalman's pictures and text restore a humanity which this observer finds America can strip from its icons: Jefferson and Lafayette are painted plucking figs from the trees at Monticello, and in noting that Jefferson's self-penned epitaph on his gravestone does not mention that he was President of the United States, she asks (of her young readers) "I wonder why", before on the next spread urging her readers to follow "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything", though Jefferson himself might have mused whether such a quest was reasonable or possible for everyone without the benefit of a tobacco plantation.
For those interested in oldish Doctor Who stuff, issue 26 of Oxford's Tides of Time fanzine, published in 2000, is now online as a pdf. More information here.
sir_guinglain: (Hartnell words)
( Apr. 20th, 2014 11:16 am)
Here I am, an agnostic and I suppose a functional atheist, humming 'Jesus Christ is risen today'... but here is a Doctor Who Easter Bunny, co-creator Cecil Edwin 'Bunny' Webber, profiled on BBC Two's (Happy Fiftieth Birthday, BBC Two!) website for An Adventure in Space and Time last year. ([twitter.com profile] danblythewriter's idea.)
Too often I post about the merely routine, and this post is much the same; but it is a great thing that one can read scans of rare historical source texts on one's phone. I'm not sure if it is great in the sense of really very useful, or great as a gimmick, or great as a symbol of the sharing of old knowledge on a table constructed with the new; or just great in the grand/cool sense; but it's great nonetheless.
From The St James's Chronicle or British Evening Post, 27 December 1764:

"We hear that there are Cabbage Roses now blown in the garden of Mr. Snelgrove, at Heytesbury, as beautiful as if it were the Month of June."
This morning's post brought Andy Davidson's Jaunt: An Unofficial Guide to The Tomorrow People, newly-published by Miwk. In it he recounts the resistance Roger Price and Ruth Boswell faced over the casting of Afro-Caribbean actor Stephen Salmon as Kenny in series one, and then of Elizabeth Adare as Elizabeth in series two. He also quotes an interview Elizabeth Adare gave to Look-In in 1977 (and respect to Look-In, the 'Junior TV Times' for using it):

being black can make getting work quite difficult. The trouble is casting directors will turn you down for a part because putting a black person in a certain role automatically makes the viewers look for special meanings that possibly detract from the plot. (Davidson, Jaunt, p. 56)

Worth thinking about when considering last weekend's panel at Nine Worlds as well as the relevant book, Doctor Who and Race, which I'll be reviewing for the next issue of The Terrible Zodin.

Jaunt is available direct from Miwk Publishing.
The colour film found at this site of London in 1927 is quite evocative for those who at all know the place.
Pope Francis... well, that is a new twist to an old guessing game; and shows what I know.

ETA: This is a sign of the shift in pontifical naming customs which has taken place since 1958. Between the late tenth century and up until Pius XII, it could be argued that names were chosen to demonstrate continuity with the early church, with variations depending on the times. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, continuity with ancien regime Europe and the papal monarchy was important. Since John XXIII, naming choices have represented a shift towards emphasising the kind of ministry one might expect, rather than asserting political associations.
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