The extraterrestrial who wanted to be a TV star

Tuesday, 1 October, 2013

British television viewers were alarmed one evening in November 1977 by what seemed like a message from an extraterrestrial, going by the name “Vrillon”, that was broadcast through their TVs for some six minutes.

Of course they were unaware that someone, whose identity still remains a mystery, had hacked into their local transmitter, and was infiltrating the broadcast signals with their own words.

None of the evening staff at Southern Television were aware of the intrusion to their signal. International Broadcasting Authority engineers in Croydon, Surrey did not hear the rogue signal, nor was it detected at the main transmitter site in Southampton. The message from “Vrillon” continued for nearly six minutes as stunned families across South-East England tried to comprehend what they were hearing. Some panicked, believing that aliens really were communicating through the television.

I’m surprised no one actually came forward to claim responsibility… was the fear of being prosecuted really that overwhelming, considering the trouble whoever it was had gone to?

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Is it true that the best films can now be seen on TV?

Thursday, 21 October, 2010

While I like to think there are still plenty of quality contemporary films in release, there’s little doubt that there has been an increase in the calibre of recently made-for-TV productions.

Once upon a time, over a generation ago, The television set was commonly called the “boob tube” and looked down on by elites as a purveyors of mind-numbing entertainment. Movie theaters, on the other hand, were considered a venue for, if not art, more sophisticated dramas and comedies. Not any more. The multiplexes are now primarily a venue for comic-book inspired action and fantasy movies, whereas television, especially the pay and cable channels, is increasingly becoming a venue for character-driven adult programs, such as The Wire, Mad Men, and Boardwalk Empire.

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Back in the early days TVs didn’t need channel buttons…

Monday, 28 June, 2010

Photos of one of the earliest ever televisions, the British made 1936 Marconiphone 702, which appears to without a channel change button, doubtless an unnecessary feature in 1936.

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Our marriage ended after my partner left me for the television

Wednesday, 26 May, 2010

I think the programming would have to be of an exceptionally high quality for most people to consider favouring their TV over their partner

More than one in 10 (13%) telly addict Britons would rather give up their partner than their TV.

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Television screen logos of the BBC

Tuesday, 25 May, 2010

A collection of the various BBC Television screen logos used from 1953 through to the present day.

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When neighbours become good neighbours they save the world

Tuesday, 11 May, 2010

Television soap operas are proving to be a surprise driver of social change and self improvement.

Researchers in Rwanda have found that radio soap operas there can help defuse the country’s dangerous ethnic tensions. Turkish soap operas have set off a public debate about women’s roles in the Middle East. And research in the United States has found that health tips tucked into soaps have greater sticking power than with just about any other mode of transmission. In a surprising number of ways, soap operas are improving lives around the world.

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The BAFTA award winners for 2010

Tuesday, 23 February, 2010

The list of winners from this year’s British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards.

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Jerry Mander’s arguments against television

Tuesday, 1 December, 2009

Jerry Mander’s book “Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television” – which was written in 1977 – has been re-published online.

What’s the matter with our modern, technologically based society anyway? Why isn’t it more satisfying? Why do so many of us now feel that some vague something hounds us and diminishes us and makes us into something less than we should be? Most specifically of all, do we really use television – and so many other “benefits” and “tools” of our technological age – or does it use us?

For the time poor, a summary of Mander’s arguments have been posted on Wikipedia.

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The revolution will not be televised as TV will be the revolution

Tuesday, 3 November, 2009

TV is proving to be an important driver of social change in developing nations.

In our collective enthusiasm for whiz-bang new social-networking tools like Twitter and Facebook, the implications of this next television age – from lower birthrates among poor women to decreased corruption to higher school enrollment rates – have largely gone overlooked despite their much more sweeping impact. And it’s not earnest educational programming that’s reshaping the world on all those TV sets. The programs that so many dismiss as junk – from song-and-dance shows to Desperate Housewives – are being eagerly consumed by poor people everywhere who are just now getting access to television for the first time. That’s a powerful force for spreading glitz and drama – but also social change.

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“Net Newsers” redefine news consumption habits

Wednesday, 20 August, 2008

“Net Newsers”, people who are typically under 35, university graduates, and well off, are redefining media habits in the US, by shunning traditional news services, such as newspaper and TV news broadcasts, in favour of sourcing news and information from blogs and online news websites.

The biennial Pew Research Center report on changing news audiences described 13% of the US public as “net newsers” – web users under 35 who read more political blogs than watch national news coverage, rely heavily on web-based news during the day and have a strong interest in technology and technology news.

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