Cutting Edge

In our busy digital lives, is it time for Splayde revival?
Hybrid cutlery is something that sounds a bit menacing but it’s actually a term to describe the much maligned likes of the Splayde or the Spork. These are single items of cutlery combining more than one function. It’s probably the name that puts people off, the name makes them seem more like a toy than something genuinely useful. They’ve been around for some time yet it seems that this decade could be where they come into their own, if only people knew about them.


Doctor Who The Magician's Apprentice

Doctor Who The Magician’s Apprentice
BBC One, Saturday 19th September 2015

Review by Sean Alexander

Starring: Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Michelle Gomez, Jemma Redgrave, Jami Reid-Quarrell
Written by Steven Moffat, Directed by Hettie MacDonald
“Where is the Doctor…?”

Spoilers – dontcha hate ‘em?  In this saturated multimedia world we are now enforced to live in, avoiding anything from sports results, soap storylines or what’s happening in the next series of Doctor Who is only achievable with hermit levels of reclusiveness.  Even if you try your best they’re there on the front of TV guides, in Twitter feeds or on the sides of double-decker buses.  The price of living in a multichannel landscape that has hundreds of channels demanding your attention is that a certain amount of ‘spoilering’ is now deemed necessary rather than optional.  Soaps plaster their storylines all over the tabloid press and TV Quick, while those notorious ‘moles’ that seemingly get wind of even the most covert of TV secrets are so invidious you can only assume they’re also on the programmes’ payroll.  Russell T Davies, himself far from being a stranger to ‘sexing up’ his own products once called them ‘ruiners’, and that’s exactly what they do nine times out ten.  Past the visceral thrill of discovering (blank) is the new (blank) in the first episode of (blank), these ruiners just leave us marking time while watching the final programme until our suspicions are confirmed, rendering their impact hollow and empty.  It’s a tightrope that Doctor Who has trodden with mixed success since 2005, with notable wins (Jenna as Oswin the Dalek, Capaldi’s eyebrows) and losses (Yana is the Master, 11th’s final phone call to the future Clara) that are as much down to carefully guarded choices as the very real presence of the show’s filming on the streets of London and Cardiff.  But tonight felt like another of those defeats, in more ways than one.
Warning- Spoilers past this point


Agent Carter Season One

Though only eight episodes long, this debut season of the latest Marvel spin off proves to be a deceptively clever affair. It manages to dance effortlessly between 1940s police procedural to sci-fi lite to spy motifs to adventure in the space of each packed 45 minute episode. It can be witty, it can be extremely violent, often moments apart. With one central plot that encompasses a number of aspects it is also full of twists and turns. In short it is hugely enjoyable and frequently surprising.
In terms of approach Agent Carter draws in influences from the two old comic pulp staples- detective stories and  fantasy tales which the Forties settings really suit.  Set after the events of the first Captain America film it sees his beloved Peggy Carter attempting to move on with her life working for the Strategic Scientific Reserve, a sort of prototype SHIELD. However her colleagues, not surprisingly given the time, have little respect for any contribution she may make to their investigations. When Howard Stark approaches her to help him retrieve a number of dangerous devices which have been stolen she becomes embroiled in a wider conspiracy. When these weapons start to be used, everyone else is convinced Stark has turned traitor so Peggy has to hide her own involvement in a series of daring investigations. She’s aided by Starks’ stiff collared butler Jarvis.


Doomwatch Winter Angel

This 1999 TV Movie was an attempt to revive the series some 27 years after it had ended. Intended as a pilot for a potential series, `Winter Angel` looks slightly awkward as it tries to stay faithful to the core of the original yet also relevant to viewers in 1999. While it is certainly more in tune with the tenor of the series than the 1972 movie was it chooses to tackle a topic that strays into the realms of science fiction and no doubt its science would amuse actual scientists. In an old nuclear power station a team succeeds in creating a black hole as they try to generate unlimited energy. Only matters go awry when environmentalists get footage of an accident and are pursued aggressively by secretive agents. The narrative, whatever the scientific inaccuracies- and let’s face it most of us don’t care too much about them- has possibilities but seems to take a large amount of time to get going. Despite ample running time it seems foggy about some things and lacks much in the way of interesting characterisation. 


Trad Jez

Jeremy Corbyn has won! Now what?

Jezza C- as nobody has yet called him- is the new Labour party leader despite ticking none of the boxes you might imagine a new Labour party leader would tick. He is something of a punt for a party unsure what to do next and seems to have gathered a youthful following on one hand and gnarly old socialists on the other. Unlikely bedfellows moving forward I’d say. He’s tapped into the Europe wide trend for anti- austerity driven partly by governments telling us things have recovered yet still initiating cuts. He’s way beyond the demographic normally deemed as acceptable for the modern age being neither young nor even young at heart. 


Top of the Pops 18 Sep 1980

Simon Bates. "Hello and welcome to a slightly new look Top of the Pops because of our small problems here at the BBC, but we have a host of stars live and on record for you. For example here is..."

XTC: Generals And Majors [32]. Simon Bates is alluding to a scene shifters strike which caused some problems at the BBC. People with long memories might remember Simon Groom, Sarah Greene and Peter Duncan sitting on an empty studio floor for Blue Peter. Simon Bates is standing in front of a plain wall artfully decorated with a few lights to compensate for the lack of a set, and he's shot in close-up which makes the whole thing oddly claustrophobic. This is the episode for you, if you've ever wondered what it would be like to be trapped in a cupboard with the ex-host of Radio One's Golden Hour. No sets means no new bands in the studio so XTC are represented by the video for Generals And Majors which for some reason features Richard Branson head of XTC's record label Virgin.


Doomwatch The Movie (1972)

It was almost compulsory in the Seventies that a successful TV series had to be made into a film however ill-fitting that medium might be so you have such delights as On The Buses making it to the big screen. Doomwatch at least has more potential to make a transition but the trouble is that the series was very talky indeed. In order to spice up a movie the makers of this 1972 version turn it into a quasi-horror film; in the US it was titled `Island of the Ghouls`. Reasonably atmospheric direction toys knowingly with horror motifs on remote island Balfe where Doomwatch send Dr Shaw, a hitherto unseen operative, to take a few samples. Before long he finds himself mistrusted, followed, attacked by dogs and generally made to feel unwelcome. They don’t like strangers round these parts you see.


Tie Story

Last week I bought a bow tie. I’m not sure why or when I imagine I might need it but it felt like something I should own. It led me to thinking what the whole point of ties really is? How did the idea even get thought of? Amazingly the first recorded tie of any sort dates back to ancient China and 210BC, The famous Terracotta Army statues found in 1974 are all sporting a sort of neck tie which historians reckon is some kind of badge of honour. There are further examples of this sort of thing through history though these are usually what we would call a cravat rather than a tied up tie of the sort people wear to offices, though cravat is just French for tie. It wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution  that the narrower tie came into being when workers developed a fashion for tying cravats in the more familiar knot at the throat style mainly to keep it secure amongst the factory machinery.