May 2004 Archives
May 25, 2004
Today was Jules' funeral service, in Stevenage. I managed to scab some time off work (we're filming tomorrow, so I left a great long list and some rather angsty researchers behind, but they know what they're doing) and drove down. I'm glad I went. Roman Catholic services aren't exactly my taste, but that's hardly the point.
Alan was understandably emotional, but in the circumstances managed some creditable comic timing in his eulogy. The spirit of Hull Pushbike rides on, it seems. At the wake, the Brothers not-very-Grim-at-all (ie. Nigel and Ian, Alan's younger siblings) were thoroughly entertaining, and Viv (their mum) seems to be bearing up well. It was a rather jolly affair, which is doubtless how Jules would have wanted it.
May 17, 2004
May 16, 2004
I haven't had much time to write here, as the regular reader may have noticed. We're now halfway through studio filming with The Big Bang, and it's going rather well. New boy Sam has learned at a genuinely frightening pace; it's been a fascinating experience learning with him. He's excellent. Kate's been a huge help bringing him up to speed too, as has new director Vic - who somehow manages to blend creativity and drive with immense patience. Which is pretty much a requirement on this show.
...which is itself an indication that progress has been a tad slow. Nevertheless, we're roughly on schedule, and I'm not overly worried about the week ahead. We should get done. More importantly, what we're doing is excellent stuff. I think - and it's always hard to judge at this stage, but I think - the best we've done. Excellent items, some extremely funny performances, and some good science. It's a cheeky show; we've twice had to do another take because the exec producer giggled over the first one. Which is a good sign, I tend to think.
Speaking of the exec: one significant improvement from previous years has been the support from The Powers That Be. I'll have to seriously revise my opinion of working for Granada if this carries on; not only is the production manager an absolute sweetheart, but the new exec is excellent too, and the head of department made the effort to come and visit and take us to dinner. It's almost like we're a legitimate production, or something.
Other news: not a whole lot, really. The Roadster is now officially run in, following a glorious evening blat to Scarborough with Anna on Friday; Jack and I have been posing around Leeds with the roof off today. Mighty fun, I tell you.
Right, that's me. We're back on camera 08:30 - 19:00 tomorrow, and I need my beauty sleep. There's also some little niggle about needing scripts for tomorrow, but I'll work out what that's about in the morning.
May 10, 2004
OK, something more exciting than studio filming happened to me today. Jersey Royal new potatoes happened.
Normally, I'm of the opinion that mashed potatoes are about as good as life gets. A plausible exception is roast spuds, ideally with a little garlic crushed over them part-way through cooking. But New Jersey Royals, with those papery skins...
Reason for recent quietude: today was the first day of studio filming for The Big Bang, my current project. It went... it went pretty well. I hesitate because it was quite slow, but what we got on tape was very good. New presenter Sam continues to learn at a genuinely intimidating rate, making different mistakes from one take to the next (which is more than one can ask for, really). Kate was excellent as ever. Props mostly worked, and as usual the least prepared researcher was... me.
Top marks for the day must go to madman Jack and his marble rollercoaster, a work of staggering simplicity and not inconsiderable beauty. On camera, it was stunning - the cameramens' eyes lit up as soon as they saw it through viewfinders.
High marks also to my new executive producer, who in barely two weeks in the job has rendered herself nigh-on indispensable. I've usually disagreed with execs enough to distrust them in general: suddenly, I find myself agreeing, arguing productively, and learning from one. Which is exactly how it should be, and the series is improving as a result.
I'm thoroughly enjoying working with the new director, with whom I feel like I've been working for years even though we've barely even met; the new designer's tweaks to the set are wholly welcome also.
In short, my basic plan this year of 'shake the whole thing up without breaking more than we have before' seems to be working. Which is rather exciting. I only hope I can keep up.
May 7, 2004
Van Helsing - the film that puts the 'OTT' in 'Gotthick.'
Gloriously awful, it is, whether you're playing 'Spot the Gothic literary reference,' 'Count the buckles,' 'Second-guess the eight-foot-high storyline signposting,' 'Work out exactly how many Bond films they watched,' or just plain falling off your seat at the sheer lunacy of it all. OK, so I was absolutely in the mood for mindless fun (and hence 'out of their minds fun' was a bonus), but really - that's one of the funniest films I've seen in years. It is a comedy, right? Right?
And what's with Kate Beckinsale? Is she only making vampire vs. werewolf flicks these days? Does she have a contract rider requiring corsets and very tight trousers? Or has she finally given up taking herself remotely seriously?
May 3, 2004
Is it just me, or does BBC News Online seem to have lost its editorial way? It's almost like... like the stories are exactly the wrong length. They're too long to be read in a quick scan (cf. Teletext), but too short to impart much more information than the headline. Then there's the writing style, which often reads like a summary of a news broadcast. Take this story for an example - those aren't paragraphs, they're sentences.
I wonder if there's been some behind-the-scenes streamlining of the editorial workflow, to better share stories between different media? If so, they're not being adequately repurposed for the web, folks. Sorry, but I notice myself using Guardian Online far more than I did even a few months ago, despite their diabolically badly-implemented registration system.
May 2, 2004
...is currently appearing in 'Zero to Hero' on Channel 4, as mentioned previously. There's a thread about him on the series message board. Now, how can we make sure he never lives this down?