Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Britain is a country returning to the bad old days of more and more cold and poor, old men of yore

If 'poverty' is defined as 'those households or individuals living on less than 60% of median income,' then living in 'poverty' within its shores are one in five of the population, consisting of :

* 8 million working-age adults

* 4 million children

1.9 million pensioners or 16% of the total


New research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has found almost 300,000 more pensioners in the Britain are living in poverty last year compared with 2012-13 : the first sustained increase pensioner poverty for 20 years.

On this basis, because of the disproportion between the number of old men and old women living in Britain, with old women outnumbering old men, it would not be true to say that 150,000 more old men are now living in poverty added to the 600,000 or so who were already in that state, but the figure is certainly approaching 150,000.

Put another way :



 x 15,000 





are added to the


 x 60,000 old men already living in poverty



At this time of year this means that most of them will stay or live in just one heated room of their home to save money and avoid heating rooms like the bedroom or bathroom because they are worried about the cost. Beyond that, they have the stark choice of : to eat or to heat. The cold weather and their poorly heated homes increased their risk not only of influenza but also of heart attack and stroke and go a long way to explain the 24,000 excess deaths among old people in a typical British winter. In addition, many of their homes suffer from poor insulation, with some of the worst levels of home energy efficiency in Europe.

Britain in 2017 : a country where few care that the number of old men and women living in poverty is rising year by year. 



Friday, 1 December 2017

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Farewell" to an old expert on 'Political Communications and Mass Media' called Professor Colin Seymour-Ure

Despite the fact that Colin was one of the world’s leading scholars of 'political communications and mass media', who has made useful contributions to the subject since the 1960s, his passing, at the age of 78, has gone largely unreported and without tribute. No mention in the national press, no obituary in the Times, Telegraph or Guardian newspapers; only a brief tribute from the Judd School in Kent where Colin had served as Chair to the Board of Governors until 2007 under the title of 'Judd remembers an extra-ordinary man' and another at his old Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent. In addition, Colin's passing generated just two tweets on twitter.

Colin was born in November 1938 in the 'Surrey North Eastern Registration District' which had been created that year out of the districts of Kingston and Richmond that year and between the ages of 14 and 19 was packed off  as a boarder at the prestigious public school for boys, Tonbridge School, of Tudor foundation with its motto : 'Deus Dat Incrementum' 'God Giveth the Increase.' Having left school at the age of 19 he took up his place as an undergraduate at Oxford from which he graduated with his BA in 1961 and, in succession, began his academic career with an MA at Carlton University, in Ontario, Canada followed in 1962, by his DPhil back at Oxford in 1965.

Having married Virginia Crowe, whose grandfather was Sir Eyre Crowe, a British diplomat and leading expert on Germany in the Foreign Office, best known for his 1907, vigorous warning that Germany's expansionist intentions toward Britain were hostile and had to be met with a closer alliance with France. Colin started his first job as a young lecturer of 27 at the new University of Kent in 1965.

When he joined the 'School of Politics and International Relations' at its foundation and started the first undergraduate course in Britain on 'Politics and Mass Media' , his daughter with Virginia, Kirsty, who would later go on the write 'Dog @ Home', was the first baby born to the staff after the University opened and her brother Bruce followed three years later in 1968. In addition to his work in the Department, he was also Dean of Eliot College Eliot College and then  Rutherford College the following year.

Colin had his first publication in 1968 with 'The Press, Politics and the Public' and after a brief sojourn as 'Visiting Professor' at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill in 1970 he returned to Kent and in 1973, was instrumental, along with colleague, Dr Graham Thomas, a Lecturer in the University’s Department of Politics, in creating the Universities unique archive of 90,000 political cartoon which started life as the 'Centre for the Study of Cartoons and Caricature' and later became 'The British Cartoon Archive,' the national collection of political and social-comment cartoons from British newspapers and magazines.

Steve Bell, political cartoonist, talked about the archive in 2008  : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yusbR6jH1h0

Initially, Graham had contacted national newspapers in an effort to locate surviving collections of cartoons and had found them eager to dispose of the material they held. The collection is housed in Templeman Library with a public exhibit gallery. It now has 130,000 original drawings by 350 different cartoonists and 90,000 cuttings and a library of books and magazines with a website which gives free access to its holdings, including a fully searchable catalogue of 140,000 cartoon images.

In 1974, at the age of 36, he published 'The Political Impact of Mass Media' and eight years later in 1982, in what now, 25 years later, seems to be a work of great prescience, 'The American President : Power and Communication.' Colin examined the relationship between presidential power and presidential public communication. He suggested that a Prime Minister had weapons at his or her disposal that reduced the weight that public relations needed to bear. A President, by contrast, must rely heavily upon communication to achieve his goals - a dependence which is clear, but the outcome of which is unpredictable.

In 1980 he started his 22 year tenure at Kent as Professor, School of Politics and International Relations and five years later published his well-regarded biography of the cartoonist David Low who, in a career which spanned 50 years in the middle of the 20th century, published over 14,000 drawings and had his work syndicated around the world to more than 200 newspapers and magazines. Colin appreciated his skill in capturing the spirit of his time was undisputed. Politicians courted or damned him, Hitler and Mussolini banned him, but nobody could ignore this brilliant pictorial journalist who drew his leading articles instead of writing them and influenced a whole generation of cartoonists on both sides of the Atlantic.

Such characters as the immortal Colonel Blimp and the TUC Carthorse are stamped on the nation's consciousness. Colin's book was a tribute to the critical but constructive spirit a cartoonist of genius who liked to call himself  "a nuisance dedicated to sanity". Colin noted that : ‘Low’s cartoons looked the stronger for being in Beaverbrook’s paper, and Beaverbrook could use Low to symbolise his own detachment, as newspaperman, from party ties and trammels.’

In 1991 came 'British Press and Broadcasting Since 1945', in which he covered the period from a time when the phrase "mass media" was barely used, to the era of international media conglomerates and global communications. Colin covered the size and ownership of the national and provincial press, the growth of television and the impact of ITV, the decline and revival of radio and the continuities and differences in what people read, looked at, listened to and liked.

In 1992 we have a brief glimpse of Colin talking about the ebbing of support for John Major's Conservative Government : http://www.gettyimages.co.uk/detail/video/major-and-the-press-int-kent-maidstone-cms-prof-colin-news-footage/810228004

In 1997 in 'Parliamentary Affairs' he wrote 'Editorial Opinion in the National Press' : 'Never before has Labour enjoyed the majority support on  the national press in a general election. Six out of ten national dailies gave the party their largely unqualified support. This was twice the previous highest number. Five out of nine Sunday papers, too, endorsed Labour. In the political history of the press, this was an historic moment, every bit as significant as the size of labour's majority, which sent commentators groping to the early nineteenth century.'

In 2003 came 'Prime Ministers and the Media: Issues of Power and Control.' He examined the ways in which prime ministers manage and fail to manage their public communication and covered political rumours, political cartoons and capital cities. He set  contemporary analysis of Downing Street press secretaries, media barons and press conferences in historical context and on public records, private papers and Colin's interviews  dating back to the 1960s. Two of his middle chapters were entitled 'Harlots Revisited: Media Barons, Politics and Prime Ministers' and 'The Downing Street Press Secretary: Getting into a Spin?' Two of the later ones were : 'Grapevine Politics: Political Rumours' and 'Drawing Blood? Prime Ministers and Political Cartoons.'

In 2009 he wrote his article 'A  More Accountable Press'  in 'The Political Quarterly' in which he stated : 'This independent report for the Media Standards Trust makes the case for urgent reform of the self-regulation of British press content. It focuses on increasing inaccuracy and invasion of privacy by the press, which also suffers declining public trust. These features are linked to major changes in press technology and economics. Unlike comparable trades and professions, the Press Complaints Commission has not updated its structure and procedures to reflect modern standards of transparency, fairness and accountability. The democratic role of the press is weakened. Governments may be tempted to intervene. A later report will propose reforms.'

Colin's reach extended far beyond the confines of the University of Kent where he was Emeritus Professor of Government from 2002 and he was by turns a Council member of the Hansard Society; for six years Chair of the Independent Television Commission’s 'Committee responsible for advising on advertising rules' ; Master of the Skinners' Company; Chairman of the Study of Parliament Group, made up of parliamentary staff and academics and had worked at Harvard and in Washington, Australia and Canada.

Philip Cowley, a Professor of Politics at Queen Mary University of London in the School of Politics and International Relations said of Colin :

'He was old school - dapper, drove a sports car, the nearest thing I've ever met in academia to Terry Thomas - but wonderful company, always very kind to me, and always worth reading.'

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Britain is no country for a very old Second World War Submariner called Jim Booth

Jim, who is 96 years old, was born in 1921 and joined the Navy in the second year of the Second World War in 1940, when he was 18. He served on the North Sea convoys before he became part of the Combined Operations Pilotage and Reconnaissance Parties : 'COPP,' which had a wartime military base on Hayling Island in Hampshire in 1943 under the instruction of Lord Mountbatten. It was here that he became part of a small team of sailors and soldiers trained as frogmen and canoeists for covert beach explorations prior to landings on enemy occupied territory.

Jim became a submarine pilot for the X-craft, a unit of tiny submarines and remarkably, this unit of less than 200 volunteers and as a measure of their gallantry, went on to win over ninety medals and commendations in a little under three years.

In June 1944, Jim was towed from Portsmouth in his sub to the coast off the shores of Normandy in France, prior to the planned 'Deliverance Day' invasion of France. There were five men in his team : two swimmers, two crew, and the commander who would be cooped up for four days in their tiny craft. Having arrived at their destination, they surveyed the defences through the periscope by day and each night two of them clambered into their cumbersome swimsuits and life jackets, to swim 400 yards to the shore for a reconnoitre.

Jim was playing his role in an operation which saw 24,000 British, American, Canadian and Free French troops begin an airborne assault shortly after midnight followed by the War's biggest amphibious landing of Allied infantry and armoured divisions.

The secrecy of Jim's mission was all-important because if the Germans spotted them before the assault began, they might guess an invasion was imminent. Jim recalled : "When we were under way beneath the water, I was either on the steering wheel or the periscope. In those days there was no satnav and we had to do navigation the old-fashioned way to find our destination. We took charts, pictures, anything we could lay our hands on. When we arrived we went up the beach a couple of times to take bearings."

In his sub, which measured just 51ft long and 6ft wide where, it was feared the oxygen would run out and the men were instructed to take naps to use less of it. They were close to Sword Beach and submerged 30 feet below the waves. Their radar was turned off to avoid detection by the Germans. They consumed their rations of tea and baked beans or soup as they waited and, as Jim recalled, talked about "beer and women." They slept one at a time in four-hour rotations in the battery compartment with the bed 'still warm' from the man before them. They surfaced each evening to listen in to the BBC 10 o'clock news for a secret codeword contained in the broadcasts that signalled the invasion was to begin. Jim recalled that : "At night when the boat surfaced we could walk about on deck a bit to get some fresh air."

Jim recalled that the day before the invasion they used a periscope and saw the Germans playing football on the shore.The airborne assault began with  24,000 British, American, Canadian and Free French troops shortly after midnight.

The next morning, at 5am, having had a message to prepare for invasion they rose to the surface and like thousands of other troops and mariners that morning, Jim, no doubt wondered if he would live to see sunset. After the "spectacular experience as this incredible mass of planes arrived which bombed the beach in advance" Jim played his part and climbed into a fold-away canoe, then shone a beacon out to sea which allowed the flotilla of Allied landing craft to reach the shore safely on Sword Beach instead of drifting onto jagged rocks.

Jim in his own words has said : https://audioboom.com/posts/2230450-d-day-a-veteran-remembers-dday70


Following the success of the D-Day mission, Jim was posted to the Far East to carry out further hazardous reconnaissance work along the coast of Burma, prior to its recapture from the Japanese. This entailed exploration of the coastal inlets, using small specialist landing craft and sorties from two-man canoes, which were launched from submarines.

After his Far East tour of duty, Jim returned to Britain to attend a parachute course, but was then returned to the regular navy and sent to the Mediterranean in command of a minesweeper, HMS Vallay, assigned to clearing German minefields.

Jim has said :

“When you’re a young man, and part of a good team of like-minded extroverts, you just think it’s all an exciting adventure, and you never imagine that you might not survive”.
 
                                                                  ****
Fast forward to the present day and a 39-year-old man, Joseph Isaacs, has been arrested by Avon and Somerset Police for attacking Jim on suspicion of 'attempted murder' and 'aggravated burglary.'

Whoever attacked Jim inflicted serious injuries to his head and body with a claw hammer after he told a cold caller, who had knocked on his front door, that he did "not require any work on his house." Jim was clearly attacked because he was seen to be a defenceless, old man.

Jim's children have said : "Countless friends, neighbours, members of the community and even strangers, have expressed their shock, incomprehension and outrage. We acknowledge and share those feelings." "Our father is an exceptional person of whom we are all immensely proud. "He is the head of the family, a dearly loved father to his four children and adored by his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, to whom he's simply known as 'The Legend.' "He is, and always has been, our own family hero" and "We are all now focused on the long process of recovery, which will be helped by the love and support of all those around him."

What a sad country Britain has become that Jim's words to the BBC in 2011 mean absolutely nothing to the vast majority of its population. He then said of his exploits off the coast of Normandy and with perfect understatement :

“This operation was special, because Normandy was special and unique, and it was critical in winning the War.”

Jim's local Member of Parliament, Rebecca Pow, who represents Taunton Deane said : “I was horrified to hear about the dreadful unprovoked attack on a constituent of mine, Jim Booth. We are so indebted to people like him, for the role they played in the security of our nation.”

                                                                  *****
France is a country which has recognised Jim's role in its liberation, off the coast of Normandy in the Summer of 1944 when it awarded him the 'Croix de Guerre' for his gallantry.


'Britain is no Country for Old Men' celebrates its millionth page view

When I started this blog 8 years and 1,500 posts ago, I did so after being infuriated by the discourteous way in which I had been treated at a petrol station. In my opinion I had become invisible because I was perceived as being 'old.' I chose the name of my blog, partly because the 2007 Coen Brothers film, 'No Country for Old Men,' would arrest people's attention, but mainly as a nod towards the lines from the poem, 'Sailing to Byzantium' by W.B. Yeats :

That is no country for old men. The young 
In one another's arms, birds in the trees, 
—Those dying generations—at their song, 
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas, 
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long 
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies. 
Caught in that sensual music all neglect 
Monuments of unageing intellect. 

I described myself 8 years ago as a 'post-Second World War baby boomer, who has time to look around, turn over stones and see if this country of ours is, or ever was, a country for old men' and I have been doing that, ever since. Now that I have chalked up over 1,000,000 visits, it seems appropriate that I should pause to reflect on what I have found about the lives of old men living in a rapidly changing Britain in the first quarter of the 21st century.

Before I begin, I need to mention my audience, which consists of neither a single member of my family nor any of my friends, which is, perhaps, hardly surprising given the title of my blog and the misconception that it is only about old men. In fact, my researches over the years have given me a greater insight into Britain and its history and socio-economic structure. In this, I haven't been surprised to find that the importance of continuities have always outweighed those of change.

So, what, over the last 8 years, have I learnt about the quality of life of old men in Britain ?

I expected that their social class would relate relate to these factors and found evidence of this as was the case in May 2016, when I posted : 'Britain is a country where more and more poor old men live relatively shorter and shorter lives than rich old men.' and 'Britain is no country for old men looking for equality of dementia care' on 25/09/16. I presented more evidence in April 2013 with 'Britain is no country for old men retiring from work and into a life below the poverty line.' and 'Britain is no country for poor old men for fewer years compared to rich old men' in August 2012.

What did come as a surprise was the role that the location of old men in Britain played in their lives. Thus, they were worse off for various reasons if : they lived in :

Hertsmere, Hertfordshire
Glasgow, Scotland
The North in general
Shepway in Kent
Hackney in London
Leeds in Yorkshire
Manchester in Lancashire
Rural England in general

There were also significant groups of old men and who fared badly in Britain due to their particular circumstances and because they were :


and suffering from :


In addition to unsung heroes and old men like Graham Ayliffe : Prnice of 'Infection protection control' and Paul Findlay, erstwhile Director of the Royal Opera House, I also concentrated on individual old men who, for personal reasons, found that 21st Century Britain was no country for them :

Noel Conway : motor neuron sufferer who no longer wants to live
Prince Charles : Prince who wants to be Regent
Michael Heseltine  : politician in Brexit Britain
Ken Clarke : politician in Brexit Britain
Ken Loach : film maker dwelling on social injustice
Phil Scraton : Professor of Criminolgy who does not want an honour called an OBE
Martin Amis : novelist unhappy in Brexit Britain
Bill Telfer : tenant farmer clinging to his land
Ian McEwan : novelist unhappy in Brexit Britain
Roger Curry : American with dementia in Britain
Nobby Styles : football player with Alzheimer's disease
Alf Dubbs : lord failing to bring in refugees

I was also interested in individual old men who had triumphed over adversity and found that, as boys, Britain was no place for them :

Polio : Bert Massie : Disability rights campaigner
Congental spina bifida : Jeffery Tate : Conductor
Blindness : Sargy Mann : Artist

In February 2014, I came across Maggie Watts, who had lost her husband Keith to pancreatic cancer at the age of 48 in 2009 and had mounted a campaign to get the then, Cameron Government, to address the issue of granting more funding for research into this lethal cancer. Maggie had organised an e-petition for this end, but was a long way short of her target and I saw that the recent death of the popular Parliamentary correspondent, Simon Hoggart, from the same cancer, as an opportunity to raise thr profile of her petition with MPS. With this in mind I constructed a post entitled : 'Why no parliamentary sketch writer could replace Simon Hoggart and 53,500 signatures are needed for Maggie Watts e-petition for research into the cancer which killed him' and spent a weekend tweeting it to the 400+ Members pf Parliament listed on twitter asking them to read, sign and retweet the petition. It got me sent to twitter jail for a few days, for repetitive tweeting, but it did elicit direct responses from some MPs, including one from Northern Ireland, who promised Maggie support if she needed it.

Having reached and breached her 100.000 signatures, in September 2014, Maggie got her afternoon debate in a Committee Room in the House of Commons in which a Junior Minister of Health conceded that : pancreatic cancer was a very serious condition and more had to be done to combat it. I got to meet Maggie and her supporters who were photographed in the Jubilee Room. Maggie, with blond hair and black dress stands in the centre and I stand just behind her son on the far right of the picture.

Kneeling on the floor in the middle was campaign stalwart and actress, Julie Hesmondhalgh, whose Coronation Street character Hayley Cropper died after battling pancreatic cancer.

I also got particular pleasure from :

Sally Hines, the daughter of the author of 'Kes', Barry Hines who saw my post on her Dad and tweeted : 'That's really great. Thanks John.'




Michael Sheen, the actor, in reply to my post about Bill Mitchell landscape theatre, who he had worked with on 'The Passion of Christ' in Port Talbot said : 'Thanks very much for that John. I appreciate it.'

Dave Davies of 'The Kinks' who tweeted that he 'liked' my post about his brother Ray's 'Waterloo Sunset'.

Acoustic guitarist, Gordon Giltrap, when reflecting on guitarist John Renbourne said : 'John, I had known JR for nearly 50 years but there were things in your tribute that I didn't know. THANKYOU.'



and Cerys Matthews,  Welsh singer, songwriter, author, and broadcaster. who wrote  'Beautiful - thanks for posting x'


Corrie Corfield, newsreader and announcer for Radio who said of Nicholas Winton : 'A wonderful post for a wonderful man.'


Kirsty Wark, BBC commentator, who retweeted my post on Polish pilot Captain Zbigniew Mieczkowski.



Maurice Gran, writer of stage musical and tv comedies 'Birds of a Feather' and 'The New Stateman' who said of my post on TV Producer, Allan McKeown : 'Good work Cooper. Will retweet.'


Michael Deacon, political sketch writer for The Telegraph who said of Simon Hoggart : 'Thanks John. Won't be the same watching Prime Minister's Questions without him muttering asides two seats away.'

Jonty Bloom, Business Correspondent for the BBC who said of debt-busting philanthropist, Marin Dent : 'Thanks for that great read.'




Giles MacDonogh, author of books on German History, French gastronomy and wine and contributor to the FT, Guardian, The Times and FT Deutschland who said on historian Chris Bayly : 'That's very good and more informative than the Telegraph obit ! Thank you.'



The newsreader, Alastair Stewart who replied to my post on the war correspondent Michael Nicholson : 'Wow; comprehensive, candid and well written. '



Maureen Van Zandt, from the States, the wife of Steve Van Zandt who plays in Bruce Spingsteen's 'E Street Band' who loved my post on Dave Clarke and said that she had shared a dinner with him the week before.



The publishing journal which got in touch ask my permission to ask if they could publish my post a unsung theatre designer, John Gunter.

I published other comments in my post in 2015 marking my 600,000 visits.
In March 2017, I looked at the reach of my blog around the globe in 'Who in the world visits 'Britain is no Country for old Men.'

By way of conclusion, I would say that :

" Given the fact that old men, living in Britain today, were born in the first half of the 20th century and now live in the very different Britain in the first half of the 21st century, Britain is indeed, for them :  No Country for Old Men."

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Britain is no country for old men, 'spent pennies,' discriminated against and dying for a drink

The International Longevity Centre - UK's latest Report, 'Calling Time', addresses the fact that in Britain today, when it comes to alcohol policy and research, old men and women suffer from discrimination. In fact, there is widespread ageism in alcohol treatment preventing those over 50 from getting the treatment they need to recover from harmful drinking.

The facts are that : 

* three out of four residential rehab services in England exclude old people on the basis of an arbitrary age limit

* old men and women over the age of 65 are excluded from 46% of clinical trials for alcohol treatment/interventions

* the Office for National Statistics figures show 45% rise in alcohol-specific deaths in Britain for those over the age of 50 since 2001

* old people with alcohol problems among most vulnerable in society because they are assigned a devalued social identity and experience social exclusion

Examples of discrimination identified in the Report include alcohol services unable or unwilling to carry out home visits for old men and women unable to attend the service and alcohol service premises or rooms within the premises inaccessible to old people with limited mobility.

This discrimination is likely to be due to pervasive misconceptions, attitudes and assumptions based on stereotypes, for example, that either old people are incapable of change or alcohol problems predominantly affect young people. The old may also be discriminated against because of socially ingrained ageism which means that younger people are valued more by society. It is worth remembering that age discrimination is rarely a result of malign intentions or motives and that people operating or not operating these policies are often not even aware of the prejudices they have.

The Report revealed that whilst old men and women may not know that they are being discriminated against and those who were interviewed felt that, in terms of alcohol, younger people are prioritised and targeted more and there was more concern for younger people and professionals are not going to 'bother so much' with old people. In addition there was the feeling that that younger people were more likely to receive funding for residential treatment because 'they think you’re a bit of a spent penny at a certain age.'

It should be pointed out that this pattern is not specific to Britain alone and is evident in other countries. Combined with an ageing world population, the shift towards higher levels of drinking in older age groups has profound implications worldwide and the World Health Organisation has identified alcohol-related harm among older adults as an increasing concern.



Friday, 24 November 2017

Britain is still a country for and says "Welcome Back" to an old 'Doctor Who' called Tom Baker

Doctor Who began life half a century ago as a children's, science-fiction television programme produced by the BBC, which depicted the adventures of a Time Lord called "The Doctor", an extraterrestrial being from the planet Gallifrey. Over the years he has explored the universe in his time-travelling space ship, the TARDIS. Its exterior appears as a blue British police box, which was a common sight in Britain back in 1963 when the series first aired. Accompanied by a number of companions, no less than twelve Doctors over the years have combated a variety of foes, while working to save civilisations and help people in need. Tom Baker played the fourth Doctor between 1974 and 1981.



Tom, now 83, has returned to reprise the part he played 38 years ago, when he was 45. He remains the longest serving Doctor who and has been persuaded to don the familiar hat, long coat a and stripy scarf once more, to finish off an episode for which filming began in 1979 but was abandoned due to a BBC strike.
Around seven hours of filming were in the can for the story of 'Shada', which was intended to be the celebratory end to the 17th series of 'Doctor Who.' The parts of the unfinished story have been completed with the use of animation and Tom's voice, with him appearing as the old Doctor in one new scene.

Shada was written by the late Douglas Adams, at the same time as he was creating 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.' The newly-recorded lines from Tom and Lalla Ward, as his companion 'Romana', follow the original script by Douglas. Lalla, now 66 years old, was a mere 28 back in 1979.

The producers have used 1970s TV cameras and the original Tardis set and K9 robot dog model to make it look part of the original lost episode. In addition, special effects and model work on the original production were never completed, so new visual effects have been done, using only the techniques that would have been available at the time of the original filming.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-england-cambridgeshire-42100466/doctor-who-tom-baker-returns-for-lost-shada-episode

The story finds the Doctor in Cambridge working alongside Romana and a retired Time Lord, Professor Chronotis, to defeat the evil alien Skagra who is attempting to steal the secrets to the prison planet Shada. The producer, Charles Norton, said he had been inspired to show Tom as he is now by a line in Adams’s original script, about how the Doctor might be seen in years to come as “a nice old man.”

Tom has said that it was “a matter of regret” over the years that Shada had not been completed. When asked why he had agreed to reprise the role ?  he said : “I think it never left me and that’s why I can’t stay away from it. It was a lovely time of my life. I loved doing Doctor Who because it was life to me. My real life was really rather drab compared with the life of Doctor Who when we were making it. Doctor Who for me was an asylum and when I was in it, in full flight, making silly suggestions or pulling funny faces to make actors laugh, then I was happy.”

In answer to the question : why was his portrayal so popular ? Tom said :

“Because I was the silliest. When I got it I felt this benevolent alien personality which was part of me and I embraced it. It took me over.”


Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Britain is no longer a country for and says "Goodbye" to its favourite voice of TV sports broadcasting, Tim Gudgin

Tim, who has died at the age of 88, worked with the greats of television sports broadcasting : David Coleman, Harry Carpenter, Frank Bough. His name may have been less familiar than theirs, but his voice was equally recognisable and he now occupies his place in their pantheon because millions remember a thousand Saturday teatimes when his was that voice that launched and then, almost always, dashed, their dreams of winning the football pools.

It was a time in Britain, when, until the Lottery replaced the pools as Britain’s favourite flutter, millions of punters would listen in excited anticipation while ticking the results off on their precious coupons. Home wins, away wins, draws and score draws. Most people stuck to the same numbers every week as with the lottery and rather than a game of skill, it became a game of chance and always with that voice a hint, a promise and that chance. Gary Lineker described him as "one of the most familiar voices in sport" and "a quintessential part of Saturday afternoons in this country."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pHzaD7OQfA&t=1m12s

Born in Croydon, Surrey in 1929 where his father worked for an insurance company. Tim was 10 years old when the Second World War broke out and with both his father and older brother Peter, serving in the Royal Tank Regiment based at the Bovington Camp in Dorset, the family moved and he attended the local school and recalled that his brother would turn up with the latest big band records to listen to and even at that young age he "loved all those old records, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Ted Heath and I knew then, that what I wanted to do, was play them on the radio."

In fact, Peter, as a Lieutenant, was posted overseas in the War to join the 7th Armoured Division in the North African desert and was involved in the tough fighting that followed in Tunisia in 1943 and in the subsequent Italian campaign. It's possible that he may have recounted, to the fourteen year old Tim, that leading an attack on German positions his Churchill tank was "hit by a shell from a German Tiger which passed through the front plate, through the fighting compartment and into the engine, setting it ablaze” and that he and his crew then faced machine fire before escaping with minor injuries.

At the age of 10, Tim won a scholarship to the old, independent and prestigious boys' grammar school, Whitgift School in South Croydon, London with its motto, 'Vincit qui patitur,'  'He who perseveres, conquers,' where he received no encouragement to fulfil his ambition : "I always wanted to get into radio with the BBC, but my careers master at school said ‘‘not a hope Gudgin, not a hope. You will need a first class honours degree from Oxford or Cambridge to work for the BBC and you won’t get it’’. Of course, he was quite right about the Oxbridge thing, but I was absolutely determined to make it." In fact, a schoolboy predecessor at the school, also blessed with a distinctive voice, Robert Dougall, had also not attended university and he had risen to the position of senior announcer and his was the voice that announced to the world Britain's declaration of war on Germany in September 1939.

Having left school Tim started his two year's National Service in the Royal Tank Regiment in 1947 and rose to the rank of captain and posted to Hohne, he successfully auditioned along with 200 other hopefuls for the job of announcer with the British Forces Network. At the BFN he was trained by Robin Boyle, with whom he would later work with at the BBC and became involved with the Drama Club, alongside another future BBC man, Don Moss. Working for the BFN in Hamburg and later Trieste, Tim presented programmes such as 'Morning Story' and 'Early Bird.'

After returning to civilian life back in Blightey, Tim joined the BBC at the age of 23 in 1952 on the 'European Service' as studio manager and news reader. It was now that, tuning into their radio sets, a wider audience heard Tim's voice for the first time. He then moved to the 'Light Programme' and 'Home Service' and subsequently Radio 2.

Tim was completely self-effacing about his unique voice when he said : "A musical ear helps, to get the inflection right. My guiding light was John Webster, a man who used to read the results when Eamonn Andrews was presenting Sports Report on the radio in the 1950s." In the 24 years from then until he joined Grandstand in 1976, he, and his voice, hosted a wide variety of no less than 22 radio programmes, which ranged from the music selection in 'Housewive's Choice' to the school's competition, 'Top of the Form' and introductions to 'Hancock’s Half-Hour.' He worked on no less than 22 programmes in these years, having also joined Radio 2 and it is not surprising that he confessed that : "Apparently, I once presented a programme called Question Time on the radio, similar to the one on television, but I have no memory of it at all."

In 1966 when he was 37 he recalled : “I realised staff workers weren’t getting as much varied work as freelancers. So in 1966 I went freelance, which meant I could also do more commercial voice work. I remember doing the voice over for a TV ad and bought my first house mortgage-free with the proceeds.” He was referring to the fact that he "did an in-vision commercial for Square Deal Surf." 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNOzt0v9d6I

Then, at the age of 44 in 1973 he stepped back from broadcasting to work for 3 years as a public relations consultant in the Isle of Man before returning to mainland Britain and a sports programme 'Grandstand,' where he read out the horse racing and rugby results in the final score segment of the programme. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPr-af4XfQo&t=0m02s

It was during his time on the BBC’s flagship sports programme that he met Bing Crosby and recalled : "He was with us on the programme and Len Martin noticed there was a horse running called 'Uncle Bing.' We told Bing about this and being a very keen man on betting and horses he said : ‘‘Oh yes. Put something on for me. Let’s have £20 each way’’ and it went and won at 10/1."

It wasn't until he was 66 in 1995 and following the death of Len Martin, that he became only the second person to read out the football results for BBC television on Saturday afternoons. It was a slot he occupied until his retirement at the age of 82 in 2011. Having continued in his role when 'Final Score' became a separate programme in 2004. When it came to getting names right he said : "The Welsh ones can be a bit tricky, but I used to get help on those from the BBC pronunciation department." When it came to protecting his voice he said : “Well, I don’t bother gargling or warming up my vocal cords. Occasionally I’ll put drops up my nose if I’m feeling blocked, but that’s it."

When he retired Tim said : "It is a triple reason why I am going - age, distance - I am down on the south coast and the team is going to be up in Salford, and my granddaughter's wedding in Australia, which I have to be there for."  In fact, he was a little more critical than that when he said :  "They have splashed out £875 million on this Salford nonsense, even before you count the cost of transferring people. I don’t see what was wrong with Television Centre. I read that one of the men in suits said it wasn’t suitable for purpose, but a few million would bring it up to any standard you like." He was also philosophical :  "It will be emotional. I will miss it. It has been part of my life. But as far as I am concerned I will go in and do it and that will be it." 

In explaining his success Tim said that he had :

"A very recognisable voice, which has been my fortune. Whereas, with appearances, I would have gone down the drain."