Archive for the ‘BBC magazines’ Category

Immediate launches mindfulness magazine, ‘In the Moment’

June 24, 2017
Immediate Media launched In the Moment with a July 2017 cover date to cater for women interested in mindfulness

Immediate Media launched In the Moment magazine with a July 2017 cover date to cater for women interested in mindfulness

Immediate Media, the Radio Times and Top Gear publisher, has launched a new monthly magazine, In the Moment. The title aims ‘to help women make the most of every day with mindfulness, creativity and wellbeing’.

The title went on sale on 22nd June, with a 116-page first issue. The focus is on ‘positive’ features and stories with a ‘light-hearted approach’ to inspire readers.

The plan is for each issue to carry Take a Moment, an eight-page, handbag sized mini-magazine, with a ‘soothing’ drink recipe, short story and puzzle. The first issue included a choice of ready-to-frame prints and card templates for pocket-sized greeting boxes.

Cath Potter, Immediate publishing director, said interest in mindfulness had ‘grown enormously’ in the past five years with people ‘crying out for ways to slow down and tune out’. She added: ‘We want to find space within our busy lives to notice things and remember to enjoy them. In The Moment recognises that being more mindful doesn’t need to be heavy-going, and that it needs to fit within your lifestyle.’

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Rathborne’s Dr Who portrait was worth the wait

May 3, 2017
Ray Rathborne's Radio Times cover of Jon Pertwee as Dr Who

Ray Rathborne’s Radio Times cover of Jon Pertwee as Dr Who

Ian Jack has done a fine obituary for The Guardian of Ray Rathborne, the photographer who took this striking, eye-popping portrait of Jon Pertwee, who had just taken on the eponymous role in Dr Who in 1970.

Jack notes that Rathborne ‘was driven by a search for perfection that occasionally tested the patience of those who worked with him’. I know the feeling, but when you get results like this, it was clearly worth the wait.

 

 

Radio Times and the dark recesses of the web

March 31, 2017
The Radio Times has been around since 1923

The Radio Times celebrated its 70th anniversary in 1993

One of the Radio Times gurus contacted me after seeing my post about tracking down copies of magazines. He makes some interesting points about the post, which used the example of tracing a copy of the Radio Times that carried  an article about a 1974 play, Penda’s Fen:

A link to your blog post was given on a Facebook page that I dip into and I was immediately hooked as I noticed the graphic of the first issue masthead at the top. An interesting post, but one thing most miss with Genome is the facility to see the listing result in context within the day’s listings for that channel:

http://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/schedules/bbcone/london/1974-03-21#at-21.25

Scroll right up to the top of that page, and there, on the right, are the details of the issue and page numbers for the listing, making life very easy if you are then planning to look for a copy of the magazine that contains the information, either to buy or in a library:

Appears in
Issue 2627
14 March 1974
Page 43

Lynda Kelly’s website, RadioTimesBackNumbers.com, has thumbnails of all the editions she has for sale, but she does have unlisted stock, so it is always worth giving her a call to check. Even if she no longer has a copy, but once did, the thumbnail may be lurking on the web, so a quick search on Waybackmachine or just Google with the right publication date or schedule range may grab it from the dark recesses of the web.

Some nice tips there.

Tracking down a magazine – Radio Times

June 1, 2016
Masthead of the 1923 first issue of Radio Times (RT Archive)

Masthead of the 1923 first issue of Radio Times (RT Archive)

Richard has emailed me trying to track down copies of the Radio Times from the 1970s. Here’s his query:

Hello Tony, I’m hoping you can help me as I’m desperately trying to get hold of the copies of Radio Times for 10th – 22nd March 1974. I believe one of them contains the programme details and an article about the Play for Today episode ‘Penda’s Fen‘ that was broadcast on 21st March 1974. The listing should be in the issues I’m looking for. However, the article, which is what I’m really after, I’m not sure.

As I say, I am struggling to find it anywhere and maybe you know of someone or an outlet that I am not aware of (I’ve looked at eBay, general internet search). Fingers-crossed. Thank you for your time.

My first thought is to do an eBay search for:

Radio Times” 1974. The quote marks find Radio Times as a phrase rather than separate words.

This turns up 74 results. One problem is that some sellers only put up the year, so you have to open up each lot to find the March issues. You can search within a page using Ctrl+F for the month, but use ‘Mar’ rather than ‘March’, because some listing only use the abbreviation. One of the lots that comes up is for the Radio Times of 23-29 March 1974, with Arthur Askey on the cover. The seller, sprocketflange40, not only puts the date in the listing headline but also lists the main articles – really useful for tracking things down. Richard can then contact the seller to see if this is the correct issue.

As Richard mentions, he’s not totally sure which issue he wants, so narrowing things down is really useful. A trick here is to look at completed listings:

“Radio Times” 1974 – completed listings .

This shows me pictures of the issues carrying the schedules for the weeks of Saturday, 2 March and 30 March. I can save the images so I know what the target issues look like. All of these listings are by Sprocketflange30, so he is definitely worth emailing. Go to my Collecting Magazines page if you’re not familiar with building eBay searches.

Radio Times from 2 March 1974 Radio Times from 9 March 1974, The last Caesars

   ?

Radio Times from 23 March 1974, with Arthur Askey on the cover Radio Times from 30 March 1974
2 Mar in completed listings search 9 Mar in completed listings search 16 Mar

not found

23 Mar from live listings search 30 Mar in completed listings search

Once you know each cover, it makes going through listings much quicker.

If you’re lucky, you might just find a digitised image of the listings page you’re after on Flicker. This is mainly because fans of Dr Who put the issues online.

The next stage is to look for specialised magazine sellers. I list these on my Collecting Magazines page. For this post, I started on Tilleys and my search produced 20 results, including a copy of the Arthur Askey issue.

If going to the specialists turns up nothing, you can do a picture search on “Radio Times” 1974 on Duckduckgo, Google and Yahoo and immediately see if there are more around on collectors’ websites or other retailers. Notice how different the results are for the various search engines.

All these techniques can be applied to any magazine. But the Radio Times is one of the biggest titles in the history of periodicals and there are many dedicated resources online to help Richard out. Three in particular stand out:

The BBC’s Genome project

The BBC’s Genome project has digitised all the listings text from the Radio Times for 1923-2009 and put it up free online. It is not a scan of the pages, however, so there are no illustrations; and the articles are not included. But Richard can use this to confirm he has the right issue. If you just need the text of the listing, it is there (a boon for those Dr Who fans!). Some of the programmes can be watched or listened to.

A search on Penda’s Fen produces three results:

  1. a discussion with David Rudkin, the author, that was broadcast after the play’s airing.
  2. the play’s first broadcast (21 Mar 1974). Clicking on the title takes you through to the details of the actors, etc.
  3. the repeat broadcast on 13 February 1975.

It’s worth noting a line at the bottom of the web page under ‘Tell us more’: ‘Do you know whether this programme was actually broadcast as scheduled?’ It is possible that a scheduled programme was not actually broadcast – remember that the Radio Times goes to press a fortnight before it appears in the shops and a lot can happen in that time!

Radio Times Back Numbers

Lynda Kelly of RadioTimesBackNumbers.com is one of the experts on radio and television literature of all kinds. Her site sells back issues and has menus that are easy to drill down through (title/decade/year) as well as a general search. Again, there’s a copy of the Arthur Askey issue, but note the technical detail in the listing:

RT 2628 – 21 Mar 1974 (23-29 Mar) (England).
This tells you:
– the issue number (2628)
– the date of publication (21 Mar)
– the week covered (23-29 Mar)
– which of the regions is covered (England). Some programmes would not be shown in all the regional editions, which include North, England, National and London.

Furthermore, Kellybooks.com publishes several books about the Radio Times.

The Radio Times archive

The Radio Times Archive carries articles about what’s happening now as well as the magazine’s history. It has pages of mastheads, and facts and figures as well as links to resources such as a PDF of the first Radio Times from 1923. The archive is ‘produced with the permission and support of The Radio Times and financial support from the Shiers Trust’ but I don’t know who actually runs it (the author is always just ‘I’). The archive credits several collectors:

Ralph Montagu, Head of Heritage at The Radio Times, a host of private collectors including Roger Bickerton (who set up the Vintage Radio Programme Collectors’ Circle in 1996, now the Radio Circle), Penny Fabb (The Complete Guide to Science Fiction on British Radio), and Ken Clark, and the staff at the BBC Written Archive Centre near Reading.
A large part of the work would not have been possible without the help of Lynda Kelly.

Hopefully, this page will be a help to you in your searches.


To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out for my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design

 

 


 

Magazines go mad at Christmas

December 29, 2015
Christmas covers dug out of James Hyman's archive

Just four of the Christmas covers dug out of James Hyman’s archive

The people over at Radio Times were really helpful digging out scans of the magazine’s covers when I was writing my magazine design book. I discovered in my researches that the best-selling magazine yet was the Christmas 1988 cover of the Radio Times – it shifted 11 million copies!

There are no Radio Times covers in this list of Christmas magazine covers past, but James Hyman dug out some great fronts from his archive for the piece by Anna Doble, BBC Newsbeat‘s online editor. It just shows how magazines go mad at Christmas.

A Nation in thrall to the Daleks

June 13, 2015
The first Radio Times cover showing Dr Who in February 1964

The first Radio Times cover showing Dr Who – with Marco Polo and devious enemy Tegana – in February 1964

Doctor Who took to the nation’s TV screens in November 1963. The arrival was covered inside the Radio Times, but the first cover was not for another three months, in February.

The first Daleks cover for Radio Times in November 1964

The first Daleks cover for Radio Times in November 1964

In November that year, the Daleks got their first Radio Times cover treatment after the success of their first outing a year earlier. The article inside, below, noted that ‘Currently the robots are multiplying like rabbits for Christmas…’, a reference to the Dalek toys that were appearing the shops.

The Radio Times Dalek article showing the cyborgs on Westminster Bridge

The Radio Times Dalek article showing the cyborgs on Westminster Bridge

In 1965, the Daleks appeared in a comic strip in the comic TV Century 21 that was licensed by Dr Who writer Terry Nation. The story lines are totally different to the TV series because Nation owned the rights to the Daleks and some of the other early monsters, but not the Dr Who character. The two sides fell out in a big way and even 20 years later when the BBC launched its first Dr Who computer programs for the BBC Micro there was no mention of the Daleks.

The return of the Daleks to Dr Who in 2005 sparked this gatefold cover for the Radio Times

The return of the Daleks to Dr Who in 2005 sparked this gatefold cover for the Radio Times

The return of the Daleks to Dr Who in 2005 sparked this gatefold cover for the Radio Times, which recreated the 1964 scene of the Daleks on Westminster Bridge. It was voted the best magazine cover among 10 covers nominated by editors in a competition organised by the PPA, the magazine publishers’ trade association, for its 100th anniversary. Kate Moss, Darth Vader and Dennis the Menace were among the vanquished rivals.

Despite the appearance of Dalek as a word in the Oxford English Dictionary, US software packages and computers – Macs and iPads included – usually treat it as a spelling error and try to change it to ‘dales’ or something similar.  Strangely, though, trademarks such as Microsoft and iPad are accepted as valid words.

The OED entry is worth repeating here for its list of mentions of the word and statement of what inspired Nation to invent the name:

1963 Radio Times 26 Dec. 11/1 Dalek voices: Peter Hawkins, David Graham.
1966 BBC Handbk. 39 The main activity over the period in this ‘merchandising’ operation concerned the widely popular Daleks from the ‘Dr. Who’ series. Some sixty licences for the production of Dalek-inspired articles were issued.
1969 C. Hodder-Williams 98·4 iv. 49 Under what interesting new law do you propose to enforce this regime? Or have you hired the Daleks?
1971 Radio Times 30 Dec. 10/1 Who are the Daleks? Dr. Who’s most dangerous enemies, written into his second adventure in 1963 by Terry Nation, who named them after an encyclopaedia volume covering dal-lek.

The BBC designer Raymond Cusick has been quoted by Asa Briggs as saying that he got the idea for the look of the Daleks ‘while fiddling with a pepper pot’.

The fall of the lads: Loaded and Clarkson

April 1, 2015
The May 1994 first issue of Loaded - a landmark title under James Brown

The May 1994 first issue of Loaded – a landmark title under James Brown

There’s a certain irony that Loaded, the magazine credited with sparking the lad’s mag boom under editor James Brown, announced it was closing last month, just as the BBC drew the curtains on Jeremy Clarkson’s tenure fronting Top Gear. Loaded  is closing, with the last issue, dated April,  published on March 26.

Loaded was launched by IPC (now Time UK) with the strap line ‘For men who should know better.’ It seems incredible now, but Loaded and its arch rival FHM once shifted more than a million copies a month between them. The better-selling, babe-infested FHM even topped Cosmopolitan, then the best-selling women’s  monthly, in the sales stakes.

An in-your-face spread from Loaded in May 1995

Influential design: an in-your-face spread from Loaded in May 1995

And Loaded was not just influential in its sector, it rode the wave of irreverence led by Viz (1979) and TV series such as Men Behaving Badly  (1992) to help pave the way for the likes of Jeremy Clarkson and the BBC’s TV mega-hit Top Gear (2002). Emap furthered the trend not just by buying up and relaunching the 1985-founded FHM but also by bringing out Minx in 1996 – ‘For girls with a lust for life’. Furthermore, Loaded‘s design attitude spread throughout the magazine industry, both in the UK and overseas.

However, IPC sold Loaded in October 2010 to Vitality. Although its sales once regularly exceeded a quarter of a million, IPC offloaded Loaded as part of a sale of several ‘niche’ titles. In truth, Loaded had been dead on its feet for a long time, the latest in a line of lad’s mags to bite the dust. Yet, they helped expand the mainstream men’s magazine sector, which is now more vibrant than at any time.

At the lads’ end of things, the two survivors are Bauer’s monthly FHM – selling about 75,000 copy a month, a tenth of the total at its peak in the mid 1990s – and the weekly Zoo, selling 30,000.

It just seems a shame that, even as Clarkson goes out with a bang, the equally loud-mouthed Loaded is going out with a whimper.

Bedford Square, the curse of the DIN plug and £12m

March 27, 2015
Once the office of Acorn User magazine – now the living room at 53 Bedford Square

Once the office of Acorn User magazine – now the living room at 53 Bedford Square

In the early 1980s, this room at 53 Bedford Square was the office from which I ran the computer magazine Acorn User. At one time, this part of Bloomsbury would have been crawling with publishers, but by 1982 most had gone, though my employers, the US group Addison-Wesley, and the Publishers Association, were still there. Both upped sticks within a couple of years. Though the Architectural Association has hung on at No 36.

So it was incredible to see this Grade 1 listed building turned back into what it once was – a house. But when I look at the room so much has changed – the marble fireplace has gone and it looks as even even the coving around the ceiling has changed.

53 Bedford Square in London's Bloomsbury. This Georgian building is up for sale at £12 million

53 Bedford Square in London’s Bloomsbury. This Georgian building is up for sale at £12 million

The coving  used to depict the skulls of cattle and was picked out in a Wedgewood blue.  The skulls were a rebus, referring to the fact that the Adams-brothers-style property developers had to battle to develop the land against farmers who used to fatten their cattle there before driving them on to market at Smithfields. Because of the loss of the pasture, they then had to graze them out by Marble Arch and bring them along Oxford Street (you can imagine the carriage-jams) At least that’s what I remember being told.

Acorn User magazine cover from December 1982. This issue would have been edited from the Bedford Square offices

Acorn User magazine cover from December 1982. This issue would have been edited from the Bedford Square offices

We had to be very circumspect in what we did in the main rooms – we couldn’t change the chandeliers, or the colours on the walls. And filing cabinets had to be kept to the edges of the rooms (they might have been too heavy for the floor beams in the middle). The floors were carpeted. The cellars, which stretched out under the road in front of the office, inspired the Acorn User Dungeon puzzles of two writers – MUD pioneer and Henry Root publisher Simon Dally and educational computing expert Joe Telford. They also led to the nickname ‘Mad Alex’ for Alex van Someren, one of the technical editors (he was some kind of belligerent gnome who skulked in the dungeon ‘with a glint in his earring’). Prolific computer book author Bruce Smith was technical editor and Mike Milne  – who would later found the computer graphics arm of Framestore – used to knock up filler programs for me and did the March 1983 Acorn User cover.

This room was the scene of one of the earlier embarrassing episodes of my career. The head honcho of Addison Wesley, Warren Stone, had come over from the US and my MD, Stanley Malcolm (a former IBM salesman who still shaved twice a day), had arranged for me to demonstrate the early email system I used. This was 1982, pre-internet, and the system was Dialcom and my address was ACN014 (Dialcom was later bought by BT to become Telecom Gold and the basis for The Times Network for Schools). I came in early to put the room – and the computer system – back together, because it had been used for a party the night before. Just as I finished, in they came. So, I booted up the BBC Micro and loaded the software from the 100K, single-sided 5.25in floppy disc. Then, I picked up the phone and dialled the Dialcom computer. I heard the computer screech and plugged the handset into the red, metal-clad, 300baud acoustic coupler. But the computer did not respond. No error messages. It just sat there, the white cursor blinking away on the black screen. Waiting. ‘Must be a bad line,’ I murmured. So I tried again. No response. And again. Still nothing. So Warren and Malcolm smiled and left.

I probably went out for an early lunch, cursing the BT Buzby bird that was the company’s ad mascot then and everything to do with email and computers. When I came back, I unplugged the acoustic coupler, put the DIN plug back in the other way up – and it worked fine! Never mind.

I did manage to work the telex machine a couple of times though.

The Acorn User office 53 Bedford Square as it looked in 1969 – no fireplace or chandeliers

The Acorn User office at 53 Bedford Square as it looked in 1969 – no fireplace or chandeliers

However, today’s beautiful room has not always been so grand, as this 1969 photograph shows. The Georgian developers would be turning in their graves. No marble fireplace in the Swinging Sixties, a false ceiling and no chandeliers either. It looks very cheap and functional postwar, the sort of institutional, ministry-furnished room frequented by the 1960s spooks of a Len Deighton book such as the Ipcress File.

The main part of the house was not that big, but there are three floors, an attic and basement, and the mews behind has been developed and linked to the main house. Asking price today for the 6 bathrooms, 8 bedrooms 4 receptions and 10,732 sq ft is just shy of £12 million. Oh, and there’s a gym and a lift too. But no telex machine any more and Addison Wesley is now just an imprint of Pearson (like most things in the book publishing world). Acorn User was bought up by the BBC and sold on, finally closing in 2005. Alex escaped from the dungeon a long time ago and is now a managing partner at Amadeus Capital (but does still have that glint in his earring).

In the end, 53 Bedford Square sold for £10.2m.

£10 to New York and the inflight magazine

March 17, 2015
Freddie Laker's Skylines magazine cover from 1981

Freddie Laker’s Skylines magazine cover from 1981

One of the most popular online stories yesterday morning was Jane Wild’s story about Ryanair working towards £10 transatlantic flights.

Such cheap flights from Europe to the Americas have long been a dream – most famously espoused by Freddie Laker with Skytrain in the 1980s. So popular were Laker’s flights that the US embassy in London had processed 300,000 non-immigrant visas by April 1981 – and was expecting a total of 1m for the year. This meant there would be as many Britons going to the US as US citizens holidaying in Britain – and the rise was attributed to Laker by the US consul. Yet, as Wild points out, no airline has managed to run a transatlantic service offering rock-bottom fares and turn a profit. Some went bust trying, including Sir Freddie’s Skytrain in 1982.

And for every airline, there is usually an airline magazine. The 1981 Skylines cover shown here summarises the typical contents for such magazines, then and now:

  • Dustin Hoffman – a dust of celebrity sparkle;
  • Wine without tears – encouraging readers to dip into the duty free and buy more drinks;
  • The Laker story (and the cover) – it’s marketing material after all;
  • Money wars – business and finance for the executive travellers they are keen to attract;
  • About your flight – answering the questions and pushing other services;
  • Short story – for those who want to switch off.

But the 1980s was the era of deregulation, and by 1985, the US airline People Express and Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic were following Laker in taking the transatlantic fight to British Airways. And just as BA has been the airline to beat on that route, for the past 40 years BA’s High Life has been the inflight magazine – and for much of that time the contract magazine – to beat (I remember ‘whoops’ in the office when the InterCity magazine I was editing for British Rail beat High Life in the National Readership Survey).

Cover of BOAC's inflight magazine Welcome Aboard in 1970

Cover of BOAC’s inflight magazine Welcome Aboard in 1970

Before BA and High Life, there was BOAC and its Welcome Aboard, where the covers focused on encouraging exotic international travel and used relaxing poster covers devoid of cover lines. These days, High Life magazine ‘gets in front of over three million people every year, who spend an average of 36 minutes reading it’, says its customer publisher, Cedar. And it has spun off lots of add-ons, becoming more than a magazine, with a travel website, iPad app, social media content and inflight entertainment package.

High Life inflight magazine cover from November 2012

High Life inflight magazine cover from November 2012

Cedar also boasts that High Life uses ‘some of the best editors, writers and photographers in the world, including Michael Palin, John Simpson and Rankin’. And that’s certainly true of many customer magazines. InterCity was launched by former Nova and Observer Magazine editor Peter Crookston and former GQ editor Paul Keers took over when I left.

Magazines such as High Life and InterCity were key to the development of the customer magazine industry in the early 1980s, led by contract publishers such as BBC/Redwood and Cedar.

The first issue cover for Carlos, an inflight magazine for Virgin in 2003

The first issue cover for Carlos, an inflight magazine for Virgin in 2003

These days, inflight magazines for the budget airlines tend to be functional, with tit-bitty city profiles and short lifestyle features for their short-haul flights.

One magazine that set out to break the mould was the illustration-led  Carlos for Virgin Airlines. This thought of itself as more of a fanzine than an inflight magazine. It was loved by other editors and designers and won awards for its launch and design from the BSME for publisher John Brown. However, like earlier creative titles such as Town and Nova, it failed to make commercial sense for the airline, lasting just three years and six issues. It was replaced by Travel Notes in 2006. The Atelier Tally blog has a post of covers and details.

To see almost 500 magazine covers and pages, look out my book, A History of British Magazine Design, from the Victoria & Albert Museum, the world’s leading museum of art and design

 

Paxman resurrects a Kitchener mystery

December 1, 2014
The mystery of Kitchener's death from a 1933 article in Pictorial Weekly

‘Was Kitchener’s body found?’ – one of the mysteries surrounding Kitchener’s death from a 1933 article in Pictorial Weekly

Jeremy Paxman has started writing for the Financial Times and kicked off with ‘The strange death of Lord Kitchener‘ in the FT Magazine. The standfirst reads:

The British war secretary’s demise at sea in June 1916 has spawned endless conspiracy theories. A century on, can the speculation be laid to rest?

The article summarises the machinations that have surrounded Kitchener of Khartoum and his death, lost at sea in the sinking of HMS Hampshire in 1916, not long after the cruiser had left Scapa Flow on its way to Russia. Unfortunately, after a few thousand words of well-turned prose, the novelty of the piece rests on the contents of some files Paxman had sought out with a Freedom of Information order. The result: ‘The files are as dull as ditch water.’

As the magazine pages here show, the loss of ‘K of K’ was ‘the greatest mystery of the age’ back in 1933. The Pictorial Weekly article shown here was built around the 1926 claim by a journalist, Frank Power (real name Arthur Vectis Freeman), who claimed he had found the Khartoum hero’s body washed up on the coast of Norway. The incident is a core part of Paxman’s piece too.

Right-hand page of Pictorial Weekly article

Right-hand page of Pictorial Weekly article

Of course, Paxman has been the face of the BBC’s coverage of the 100th anniversary of the start of the first world war, and stepped into Kitchener’s shoes in the famous ‘Your Country Needs You’ London Opinion magazine cover and poster for the Radio Times in January.

Jeremy Paxman as Lord Kitchener for the Radio Times

Jeremy Paxman as Lord Kitchener for the Radio Times