June 15, 1989 in Doctor Who: Mindwarp novelisation published

Doctor_Who_MindwarpThe novelisation, written by Philip Martin, was the final segment of the Trial arc to be adapted. Martin adds a joke ending that gives away the revelation regarding Peri’s fate in ‘The Ultimate Foe‘, suggesting an entirely different outcome for the character and for Yrcanos than is suggested in the serial.

Accused of `crimes against the inviolate laws of evolution’, the Sixth Doctor is on trial for his life.

The sinister prosecutor, the Valeyard, presents the High Council of Time Lords with the second piece of evidence against the Doctor: a dramatic adventure on the planet Thoros Beta which led to the renegade Time Lord’s summons to the Court of Enquiry.

But as the Doctor watches the scenes on the Matrix he is puzzled by what he sees – his behaviour is not as he remembers. Only one thing is certain: on the evidence of the Matrix the Doctor is surely guilty as charged …

Read more on tardis.wikia.com.


June 15, 1983 on UK TV: The Black Adder

The_Black_Adder-1983The Black Adder is the first series of the BBC sitcom Blackadder, written by Richard Curtis and Rowan Atkinson, directed by Martin Shardlow and produced by John Lloyd. The series was originally aired on BBC One from 15 June 1983 to 20 July 1983, and was a joint production with the Australian Seven Network. Set in 1485 at the end of the British Middle Ages, the series is written as a secret history which contends that King Richard III won the Battle of Bosworth Field, only to be unintentionally assassinated by his nephew Edmund and succeeded by Richard IV, one of the Princes in the Tower. The series follows the exploits of Richard IV’s unfavoured second son Edmund (who calls himself “The Black Adder”) in his various attempts to increase his standing with his father and, in the final episode, his quest to overthrow him.

Conceived while Atkinson and Curtis were working on Not the Nine O’Clock News, the series covers a number of medieval issues in Britain in a humorous and often anachronistic manner—witchcraft, royal succession, European relations, the Crusades and the conflict between the Crown and the Church. The filming of the series was highly ambitious, with a large cast and much location shooting. Shakespearean dialogue is sometimes adapted for comic effect. Despite winning an International Emmy, The Black Adder is generally regarded as the weakest series of Blackadder, even by its creators.

Each of the episodes was based on a medieval theme — the Wars of the Roses, the TV-UK-06-15-1983Crusades and Royal succession, the conflict between the Crown and the Church, arranged marriages between monarchies, and the Plague and witchcraft. The final episode follows a planned coup d’état.

In this series, the character of the Black Adder is somewhat different from later incarnations, being largely unintelligent, naive, and snivelling. The character does evolve through the series, however, and he begins showing signs of what his descendants will be like by the final episode, where he begins insulting everyone around him and making his own plans. This evolution follows naturally from the character’s situation. “The Black Adder” is the title that Edmund adopts during the first episode (after first considering “The Black Vegetable”). Presumably one of his descendants adopted it as a surname before Blackadder II, in which the title character becomes “Edmund Blackadder”. Furthermore, Baldrick is shown in more favourable and intelligent light here – his ‘cunning plans’ are typically superior and more workable than Edmund’s own. Starting from the second series, the character’s relative intelligence and naivety clearly switch. [Wikipedia]

The Black Adder is born on the BBCWorldwide YouTube Channel.

June 15, 1990 on UK TV: Art Attack

Art_Attack-1990Art Attack is a British children’s television series revolving around art. The original, series aired on CITV between 15 June 1990 and 26 May 2007, and was presented by one of its creators, Neil Buchanan, throughout. Buchanan also wrote and produced the series, and came up with a majority of the creative ideas.

The programme was originally a TVS production, devised by two TVS employees, Neil Buchanan and Tim Edmunds. Buchanan and Edmunds met each other at Southern Television in 1978, and worked together on No. 73 and Do It!.

The first Art Attacks were a strand within No. 73, and this segment proved so popular, Nigel Pickard the executive producer of children’s programming at TVS green lit the pilot. The Art Attack pilot was shot on location at a disused swimming pool in Gillingham, Kent in 1989, and the series began the following year.

When TVS lost its franchise, Edmunds and Buchanan bought the rights to the show and TV-UK-06-15-1990produced Art Attack through their company, The Media Merchants. The Media Merchants used STV Productions (then known as “SMG Productions”), as the ITV company to get the series onto the network: this was partly down to the fact that Nigel Pickard had moved to Scottish Television. In 1993 another ex-TVS employee, Peter Urie set up a production management company, Television Support Services. Television Support Services managed all of the Media Merchants productions.

For the vast majority of its run, the show was filmed at The Maidstone Studios, Maidstone, Kent. In 1998, Disney bought the rights to produce foreign-language versions of Art Attack. Each version had a different local host for each territory, and was made in Maidstone, on a similar set to the original version. Neil Buchanan’s Big Art Attacks were retained in the international shows, as was The Head, who was dubbed by relevant local voice artists. Buchanan also produced the artwork for the foreign versions – footage of his hands creating the pieces would be voiced over by the local host, who would show the artwork in-between stages and explain what to do next. Disney ended production of the foreign shows in 2005.

ITV announced the cancellation of the series in July 2007. Until January 2014, the show was regularly repeated on CITV, usually on weekend afternoons. After the programme’s demise, many of the production team transferred to Finger Tips and Mister Maker, both recorded at The Maidstone Studios.

TV-UK-06-15-1990aThe Head, was a puppet stone bust who would humorously recap the steps needed to produce the last art piece made. After doing this, he would usually show his creation of the previous Art Attack, most times however getting it hilariously wrong and usually bursting into tears. However, on occasion, by accidentally doing part of the instructions incorrectly, he would create a different effect to that desired and be proud of his work. He would sometimes tell jokes after the Big Art Attacks. In series one, ‘The Head’ was played by Jim Sweeney, in series 2, Andrew O’Connor; and from series 3, having been redesigned as a puppet, he was voiced and operated by Francis Wright. ‘The Head’ did not appear in series 12 or 13, or in series 18 and 19. [Wikipedia]

Watch an example of the opening credits on the Vid Star YouTube Channel.

June 15, 1990 in UK cinemas: Robert Englund is ‘The Phantom Of The Opera’


The_Phantom_Of_The_Opera-1990The Phantom of the Opera is a 1989 American horror film directed by Dwight H. Little and based on Gaston Leroux’s novel of the same name. The film is a newer, gorier version of the classic 1910 tale, and stars Robert Englund as the Phantom. [Wikipedia]

Watch the trailer on the Movieclips Trailer Vault YouTube Channel.

June 15, 1951 in UK cinemas: Kirk Douglas is an ‘Ace In The Hole’

“Rough, tough Chuck Tatum, who battered his way to the top…trampling everything in his path – men, women and morals!”

ACe_In_The_Hole-1951Ace in the Hole (aka The Big Carnival) is an American film noir starring Kirk Douglas as a cynical, disgraced reporter who stops at nothing to try to regain a job on a major newspaper.

It marked a series of firsts for auteur Billy Wilder: it was the first time he was involved in a project as a writer, producer, and director; his first film following his breakup with long-time writing partner Charles Brackett, with whom he had collaborated on The Lost Weekend and Sunset Boulevard, among others; and his first film to be a critical and commercial failure.

The story is a biting examination of the seedy relationship between the press, the news itCinema-UK-06-15-1951 reports and the manner in which it reports it. The film also shows how a gullible public can be manipulated by the press. Without consulting Wilder, Paramount Pictures executive Y. Frank Freeman changed the title to The Big Carnival just prior to its release. Early television broadcasts retained that title, but when aired by Turner Classic Movies—and when released on DVD by The Criterion Collection in July 2007—it reverted to Ace in the Hole.

Watch the trailer on the ParamountmoviesDigital YouTube Channel.

June 15, 1948 in US cinemas: Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein

“The LAUGHS are MONSTERous! BUD & LOU are in a stew…when they tangle with the TITANS of TERROR!”

ABBOTT_AND_COSTELLO_MEET_FRANKENSTEIN-1948Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein (the film’s poster title), usually referred to as simply Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein—is a 1948 American horror comedy film directed by Charles Barton and starring the comedy team of Abbott and Costello.

The picture is the first of several films in which the comedy duo meets classic characters from Universal’s horror film stable. In this film, they encounter Count Dracula (Bela Lugosi), Frankenstein’s monster (Glenn Strange), and the Wolf Man (Lon Chaney, Jr.). Subsequent films pair the duo with Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and the Mummy. (The comedians interacted with the last of the Universal Studios monsters, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, on live TV on the Colgate Comedy Hour in 1954.) This film is considered the swan song for the “Big Three” Universal horror monsters, none of whom had appeared in a Universal film since 1945’s House of Dracula.

In 2001, the United States Library of Congress deemed this film “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry, and in September 2007, Readers Digest selected the movie as one of the top 100 funniest films of all time. The film is number 56th on the list of the “American Film Institute’s 100 Cinema-US-06-15-1948Funniest American Movies”. [Wikipedia]

Two hapless freight handlers find themselves encountering Dracula, the Frankenstein Monster and the Wolf Man. [IMDB]

Watch the trailer on the Movieclips YouTube Channel.

June 15, 1936 in US cinemas: Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Secret Agent’

“Dead Women Tell No Tales Was The Motto of This Charming Lady Killer!”

Secret_Agent-1936Secret Agent is a British film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, loosely based on two stories in Ashenden: Or the British Agent by W. Somerset Maugham. The film starred Madeleine Carroll, Peter Lorre, John Gielgud, and Robert Young. Future star Michael Redgrave made a brief, uncredited appearance; he would play the male lead in Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes (1938). The work was also Michael Rennie‘s film debut (though an uncredited one).

Typical Hitchcockian themes used in Secret Agent include mistaken identity and murder. [Wikipedia]

After three British agents are assigned to assassinate a mysterious German spy during World War I, two of them become ambivalent when their duty to the mission conflicts with their consciences. [IMDB]


June 15, 1973 in UK cinemas: The Day Of The Jackal

“Nameless, faceless… relentlessly moving towards the date with death that would rock the world.”

The_Day_of_the_Jackal-1973The Day of the Jackal is an Anglo-French political thriller film directed by Fred Zinnemann and starring Edward Fox and Michel Lonsdale. Based on the 1971 novel The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth, the film is about a professional assassin known only as the “Jackal” who is hired to assassinate French president Charles de Gaulle in the summer of 1963.

The Day of the Jackal received positive reviews and went on to win the BAFTA Award for Best Film Editing (Ralph Kemplen), five additional BAFTA Award nominations, two Golden Globe Award nominations, and one Academy Award nomination. The film grossed $16,056,255 at the box office, and earned an additional $8,525,000 in North American rentals.

The film was the inspiration for the 1997 American film The Jackal, featuring Richard Cinema-UK-06-15-1973Gere, Bruce Willis, Sidney Poitier and Jack Black. The 1997 film is about an assassin nicknamed The Jackal who wants to assassinate a highly significant target, but other than that, it has little in common with the original story. Frederick Forsyth refused to allow his name to be used in connection with it, and director Fred Zinnemann fought with the studio to ensure that the new film did not share the first film’s title. [Wikipedia]

Watch the trailer on the UniversalMoviesINTL YouTube Channel.