“What’s On the Box?” World Television Day

Watching TV by Aaron Escobar, reproduced under CC License

“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”

As librarians, we tend to agree with Groucho Marx’s oft-quoted remark about the medium of television – even in the digital age, we still love a good book – but there is no denying that television is still one of the world’s biggest phenomenons – and is likely to remain so for long years ahead.

And so it was in 1996 that the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 21st November as World Television Day, in recognition of the increasing impact television has on decision-making by bringing world attention to conflicts and threats to peace and security and its potential role in sharpening the focus on other major issues, including economic and social issues. It is not so much a celebration of television as a communication tool, but as a symbol for communication and globalisation in the contemporary world.

We hold a huge range of books about every aspect of the medium among our collection, from historic studies to the nuts-and-bolts of television engineering and broadcasting. We also provide access to a number of very popular online resources all about television, most notably Box of Broadcasts (BoB), from which you can not only catch up with the latest episodes of your favourite shows, but also easily create your own clips from TV programmes, and create useful playlists of clips to refer to at a later date for further study or research. And if you’re more interested in more vintage television, try dipping into the British Film Institute’s archives in BFI Screenonline, where you can watch old episodes of classics like Doctor Who, Fawlty Towers, and even University Challenge!

Take Something Horrible Home This Halloween!

Trick or treating not your thing? Then why not experience the spooky season from the comfort of your armchair by taking a dip into our very own Twilight Zone of horror & the supernatural here in the Library… if you dare!

We have an ever-expanding stock of horror novels among our Leisure Reading collection upstairs on Level 4, including Stephen King, Neil Gaiman and Iain Banks, as well as graphic novels such as Alan Moore’s From Hell and the first book in the ever-popular Walking Dead series, as well as a wide selection of more classic spine-chillers downstairs in our literature section on Level 2 including Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and a wide range of classic supernatural tales by M.R. James, H.P. Lovecraft and Algernon Blackwood.

If your taste for the macabre is more visual than textual, then we have a comprehensive selection of books exploring every aspect of the horror genre on the big (and small) screen among our cinema & television collection down in the 791 section on Level 2, ranging from Alfred Hitchcock to Hannibal Lecter and Dr Jekyll to Dr Who.

Don’t forget that you can also explore the cobwebbed vaults of the British Film Institute and Box of Broadcasts (BoB) online if you’re looking for something creepy to watch… just don’t watch it alone!

Advanced Notice of BoB Service Downtime 11th -13th June

Television fans take note – the popular Box of Broadcasts (BoB) Service will be unavailable between 11th – 13th June 2018.

Owing to a necessary relocation of their servers, BoB will be switched off on the morning of 11th June 2018 and will be completely unavailable for 3 days. Forward scheduling on the EPG will be available up to 11th June and then will restart once the move is complete. Programmes broadcast during the down-period will be available retrospectively for most channels.

Where There’s A Will, There’s A Website!

shakespeare by books18To mark the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare two brand new electronic resources have been launched by the BBC and Oxford University Press.

The BBC Shakespeare Archive Resource contains a wealth of Shakespeare material, including all of his plays, poems and sonnets, documentaries, interviews and over a thousand stills of classic Shakespeare productions, as well as entertainment programmes referencing Shakespeare.

Oxford University Press’s Illuminating Shakespeare provides access to Shakespeare resources from the wealth of material published by OUP and explores a new theme every month with specially commissioned videos, articles, and interactive content.

Don’t forget as well that the British Library last week launched their own anniversary exhibition, Shakespeare in Ten Acts.

William Shakespeare portrait copyright Books18, reproduced under CC License from Flickr.

British Science Week Resources – Science on BoB

bobAs part of British Science Week we’re to take the opportunity to highlight some of the fantastic science & technology resources you can access at the Library, starting with the very wonderful Box of Broadcasts (or just BoB for short!)

BoB is an off-air recording and media archive service. BoB is available to staff and students of member institutions of the British Universities Film & Video Council that hold an ERA+ license. This TV scheduling service allows you to record TV and radio programmes that are scheduled to be broadcast over the next seven days as well as retrieving programmes from the last seven days from a selected list of recorded channels. Unfortunately, for copyright reasons access to BoB is not available from outside the UK.

Now as BoB, in theory, offers you everything, there’s a veritable gamut of science programmes you can catch up on, including the BBC World Service’s popular weekly science series The Science Hour, which highlights the top science and technology news of the week, as well as Radio 4’s The Infinite Monkey Cage, an irreverent look at the world of science through the eyes of Professor Brian Cox and comedian Robin Ince, and classic archive science television like the ground breaking Horizon. Why not give it a browse and see what you can dig up?

Want to Know What Was on TV on the Day You Were Born…?

Radio Times by Bradford TimelineThe BBC this week launched a new online service that allows you to search through complete schedules of their seminal listings magazine, Radio Times.

The Genome Project has digitised listings from nearly 4,500 issues that cover everything broadcast by the BBC on their radio and television channels between the years 1923 to 2009, and though at present the database only contains basic information such as capsule synopsis and programme details and a brief cast/credit list, they aim to include images later.

Nearly 4.5 million programmes are covered, including old favorites such as Doctor Who, Fawlty Towers, Monty Python – and Crackerjack! – along with details of the BBC’s coverage of major sporting and historical events including Olympic Games, World Cups and Moon landings. So now you can find out what was on TV the day you were born!

Although ITV listings are not included owing to copyright issues, you can access an archive of the TV Times, ITV’s ‘answer’ to Radio Times, by visiting the BUFVC database’s TV Times listing archive, which covers the period 1955-1985 (please note you will need your Athens username & password to access this service).

Radio Times cover by Bradford Timeline, reproduced under CC License from Flickr.

Have You Tried the New & Improved BoB Yet?

bobAs of February 12th, Loughborough staff and students now have full access to the Box of Broadcasts (BoB) service again following some recent authentication issues. Just in time to make use of a range of new features which were launched when the service was updated in January.

Not familiar with BoB? It is an off-air recording and media archive service available to staff and students of member institutions of the British Universities Film & Video Council that hold an ERA+ license (including us). BoB enables you to choose and record any broadcast programme from 60+ TV & radio stations. The recorded programmes are then kept indefinitely and added to a growing media archive (currently at over a million programmes!), with all content shared by users across all subscribing institutions.

The user-friendly system allows staff and students to record and catch-up on missed programmes on and off-campus, schedule recordings in advance, edit programmes into clips, create playlists, share what they are watching with others, search a growing archive of material, plus more.

New features added in January include:

  • A new look website, with improved navigation
  • The addition of all BBC TV and radio content dating from 2007 (over 800,000 programmes)
  • Over 10 foreign language channels, including French, German and Italian stations
  • An extended 30 day recording buffer – more time to record missed programmes
  • Apple iOS compatibility – you can now watch BoB on handheld devices
  • Searchable transcripts
  • Links to social media – share what you’re watching online
  • A one-click citation reference, allowing you to cite programmes in your work

You can access Box of Broadcasts at http://bobnational.net. Click ‘login’, choose ‘Loughborough University’ as your institution, then enter your usual Lboro credentials.

"A Cosmos without the Doctor scarcely bears thinking about…"

Tardis by Capt Tim

Doctor Who, the world’s longest running and arguably most popular TV science fiction series, celebrates a remarkable 50th anniversary this weekend.

From humble black & white beginnings in a London junkyard (aka BBC Lime Grove Studios!) on Saturday November 23rd 1963, the good Doctor and his many heroic companions have travelled in the iconic battered blue Police Box TARDIS time-machine to battle alien invaders, diabolical masterminds, killer robots, man-eating plants, primeval demons and countless other sundry nasties of every description in adventures spanning 796 episodes across five decades.

Offscreen, the series survived industrial action (the Tom Baker serial Shada was scrapped due to striking technicians in 1979), the self-righteous moral crusade of clean-up-TV campaigner Mary Whitehouse, and mounting hostility from BBC executives such as Michael Grade and Jonathan Powell, who infamously cancelled the series in 1989 claiming falling audience figures – in no small way connected to the fact that the series was being screened opposite ITV’s flagship soap opera Coronation Street at the time! And the series was further diminished after many of the signature 1960’s episodes were junked from the BBC archives during a stock purge in the 1970’s, though many have since been re-discovered in places as far away as Ethiopia and Nigeria.

After a misfiring attempt to resurrect the series on US TV in 1996, the series was eventually triumphantly revived by Welsh screenwriter Russell T. Davies in 2005 and has since become even more popular, inspiring successful TV spin-offs Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures as well as a veritable galaxy of novels, audio adventures and computer games.

Eleven actors – William Hartnell (1963-66), Patrick Troughton (1966-69), Jon Pertwee (1970-74), Tom Baker (1974-81), Peter Davison (1981-84), Colin Baker (1984-86), Sylvester McCoy (1987-96), Paul McGann (1996), Christopher Eccleston (2005), David Tennant (2005-10) and Matt Smith (2010-13) – have starred in the role since 1963, and a mysterious twelfth incarnation, played by John Hurt, is due to be revealed in a 50th anniversary special episode on Saturday. Peter Capaldi was also recently unveiled as Matt Smith’s replacement in a forthcoming Xmas special.

We’ve recently added three classic paperback adaptions of some of the Doctor’s past adventures to our Leisure Reading collection on Level 4. We also have a selection of Third Doctor Jon Pertwee’s adventures on DVD in our High Demand section on Level 3, as well as a variety of other works examining the series history and popularity. And if you really fancy a trip into the series past via our own time machine (aka Library Catalogue Plus!) why not try searching for the series among our electronic newspaper archives and find out how it was grabbing the headlines back in the day?

(P.S. – A bag of the Doctor’s favorite confectionary, jelly babies, to the first person to correctly identify which story the quotation in this post’s title came from and who said it!)

TARDIS image by Capt Tim, reproduced under CC License from Flickr.

Get Documentary with Filmakers Library Online

filmmakers library online

If you’re looking for something beyond the standard text resources among our social science and humanities database, the Filmakers Library Online offers a visual interpretation across the subject spectrum through nearly 900 globally acclaimed documentary films and videos.

Filmakers Library Online provides award-winning video documentaries that cover literature and the arts, race and gender studies, multiculturalism, human rights and criminal justice, psychology, globalization and global studies, the environment and bioethics, politics and current events, and much more. It presents points of view and historical and current experiences from diverse cultures and traditions world-wide.

Among the collection are works by noted independent film makers including Academy Award nominated documentarians Josh Aronson, David Bradbury, Christine Choy and Roger Weisberg, as well as films produced through studios and producers including the BBC, the Discovery Channel and the National Film Board of Canada.

All the films are indexed and easily searchable through multiple points of access including thumbnail images and synchronised transcripts, allowing you to find your point of interest in hundreds of hours of video within seconds.

All films are free to view on the website, and require nothing more than a Flash-enabled browser to play.

You can access it directly via http://flon.alexanderstreet.com/ or you can search for material through Library Catalogue Plus.

Dalek Designer Ray Cusick Dies

daleks by rose holley

Ray Cusick, the designer of Doctor Who‘s iconic alien villains the Daleks, died at the weekend aged 84.

Then a jobbing staff designer at the BBC, Cusick was called upon in late 1963 to create the costume for a creature to be featured in the second ever story of the long-running science fiction serial, rather ironically substituting another budding young designer named Ridley Scott who had originally been detailed with the job but had to pull out after a scheduling conflict!

Working from a script by screenwriter Terry Nation, Cusick legendarily gained the inspiration for the classic pepper-pot design during a meeting in the BBC canteen – and the rest is history!

Somewhat infamously though, the terms of his BBC contract meant that Cusick never properly benefitted from the success of his design and the huge revenue it has gone on to generate, receiving only an ex-gratia payment of £100 (and a Gold Blue Peter badge!) from the corporation some years after. But his design has left quite a legacy, inspiring generations of watching children (and not a few adults!) to take cover behind the sofa at the sight of them and the sound of their grating war cry “Exterminate!”

Doctor Who itself celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this year and a fresh run of adventures starring the Time Lord’s latest incarnation, Matt Smith, begins showing on TV at Easter. But you needn’t wait that long for your Dalek fix – we have a wide variety of books about the history and appeal of the series in all its many formats, and a selection of classic 1970’s adventures starring Third Doctor Jon Pertwee among our DVD collection in the High Demand section. Dare you take to a trip to the Planet of the Daleks some time…?

Daleks image by Rose Holley, reproduced under CC License from Flickr.