Posts Tagged ‘BBC’

MagCulture’s Jeremy Leslie on BBC Radio 4

November 30, 2016
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Jeremy Leslie runs the MagCulture blog and shop

Jeremy Leslie is on BBC Radio 4’s Four Thought tonight, giving a 15-minute explanation of why reports about the death of magazines are so exaggerated. Anyone interested in magazines will have noticed all the niche print titles that have opened up even as the behemoths close down.

The state of the mainstream men’s sector is a classic example – with the likes of Loaded, FHM, Maxim, Nuts and Zoo going to the wall, while a thriving independent sector has ensured there are more titles around than for decades.

The designer and  MagCulture founder will address the questions of why this has happened even in the face of the digital onslaught that’s at the top of the media agenda and whether the trend will continue (of course it will!).

I was at the MagCulture shop  when the recording was made this month – with a certain level of irony because I’d just just come from the Printers Unite conference at the Karl Marx Library where I was delivering a paper on how magazines and newspapers responded to print disputes.

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It’s That Man Again’s Tommy Handley

July 31, 2016
1948 Strand cover of Liverpool ITMA comedian Tommy Handley

1948 Strand cover of Liverpool ITMA comedian Tommy Handley

There’s a certain poignancy in this 1948 Strand cover of Liverpool comedian Tommy Handley signing autographs outside the BBC’s Broadcasting House.

Handley was one of the most popular voices on the radio throughout the Second World War in It’s That Man Again, a series that took its title from a newspaper nickname for Hitler and was soon shortened, military style, to ITMA (pronounced ‘Itma’). The first pre-war series in 1939 was set in a pirate commercial radio station (what are the chances that this idea sowed a seed in the young minds of the people who would found Radio Caroline 20-odd years later?).

Once war broke out the setting was changed to the Office of Twerps and various changes were made throughout. Itma also introduced Colonel Humphrey Chinstrap and his catchphrase ‘I don’t mind if I do.’

Inside the Strand, a box credit box explains:

Robin Jaques made this study of Britain’s best-loved comedian as Tommy was ambushed by fans when leaving the B.B.C. headquarters of “Itma.” Autograph hunters are not permitted inside the hall of Broadcasting House, so they lie in wait over the road in Portland Place. And Tommy accepts it all with never-failing humour and kindliness. The tie Tommy is wearing is his favourite. The colours are those of the famous writers’ and artists’ club, the Savage.

Liverpool comedian Tommy Handley in a BBC publicity shot from the ITMA series

The similarity with this BBC publicity photograph suggests that Jacques – one of the best illustators of the era, who also did covers for Radio Times, Punch and the Listener – might have used it as a reference for Handley’s face. His sister was actress Hattie Jacques, who appeared in Itma from 1947.

The February 1948 issue of the Strand will have been on sale in January that year, 12 months before the last broadcast of Itma on 6 January 1949. Handley died just three days later of a brain haemorrhage. As a BBC Radio tribute to Handley puts it: ‘and with him died one of the most popular radio shows of the forties’.

The theory that Jacques used the BBC publicity photograph as a reference is given added weight by the Tit-Bits cover below from 13 June, 1947 – a year before the Strand illustration. Two artists using the same source suggests there weren’t a lot of options – but then this was post-war Britain, with rationing heavily enforced and that will have affected photographic paper. It would be another five years before rationing ended.

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This cover was definitely based on the BBC’s publicity photo of Tommy Handley

>>More on the Strand magazine

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

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’.

Lonely Planet magazine in the shops

November 27, 2008

BBC Magazine‘s Lonely Planet magazine is set to appear in the shops tomorrow (November 28). The title,  aimed at frequent travellers, will be edited by Peter Grunert who was deputy editor at Top Gear.

In November 2007, BBC Worldwide took control of the Lonely Planet travel guide publisher, which sells 6.5 million guidebooks a year.

The move caused uproar at both Time Out – where founder Tony Elliott led the fight in the late 1980s that led to the breaking of the duopoly of TV Times and the BBC’s Radio Times over television listings – and Wanderlust, which both argue that the publicly funded BBC is distorting the commercial marketplace with its commercial spin-offs through Worldwide.

Wanderlust complained, unsuccessfully, to the Office of Fair Trading about the BBC’s launch – which was to have coincided with Wanderlust‘s 100th issue. (The title is half-owned by founder Lyn Hughes; John Brown and Mark Ellingham – of Rough Guides – have stakes, and Haymarket owns 25%).

Time Out profile

BBC Magazines profile

Travel magazines

Radio Times theory to Jill Dando murder

June 9, 2008

Jill Dando on radio Times cover
The retrial of Barry George rekindles one of the early theories about the 1999 murder of BBC presenter Jill Dando – that the killing had been sparked by that week’s Radio Times cover. The usually wholesome Dando was shown in a leather catsuit standing in front of an Aston Martin below the headline ‘VROOOOOOOM!’ On the back cover was a supposed message in an advert for a book club – ‘Murder’.

The Observer of May 2 suggested:

A stalker, on the other hand, may have thought he had good reason. Her impending marriage and her appearance last week on the cover of the Radio Times wearing a leather jumpsuit and not looking at all like the girl next door of his obsessions may have tipped him over the edge.