Nicolas Winding Refn on BBC Breakfast

Director Nicolas Winding Refn was promoting Drive on BBC Breakfast when he used some rather creative language to describe the violence in the film.

The look on Carey Mulligan’s face at 0.11 is priceless.

Although some cynics may smell a calculated publicity ploy here, it seems to me like he was tired and after doing rounds of press discussing his latest work just got muddled as to where he was and what kind of language he should be using.

But what’s interesting to note how quickly parts of the British media – especially the dead tree kind seize on this kind of slip up.

Haven’t we all seen The Sex Pistols on Bill Grundy, Helen Mirren’s recent use of the s-word or Jane Fonda drop the C-bomb live on US morning television?

It seems strange that British newspapers act shocked at this when some have supported facism and hacked the phones of murder victims, but maybe I’m just being old fashioned.

Note the obligatory use of the phrase ‘choked on cereal’ or ‘choked on cornflakes’ in any story covering this world-shattering event.

Plus, what exactly can the presenters or broadcaster actually do apart from apologise and move swiftly on?

I know that as we speak there is some poor soul deep within Television Centre filling out a compliance form, which have been enforced on shows since the Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand voicemail affair, which is listed in Wikipedia with the hilariously concise title of “Russell Brand Show prank telephone calls row“.

But let me save them some time and encourage them to fill a blank sheet of paper or empty web form with the following:

Danish director of cool new film swore live on air. Presenters apologised. Move on.

By the way Drive is really good, if a little violent in places, and apparently the violence is a little like… [REDACTED].

> Full review of Drive
> Very funny Stars Wars vs Drive mashup trailer
> BBC Breakfast slip up when unedited audio of Christian Bale was aired


Hugh Grant on Phone Hacking

Hugh Grant has been carving out quite a niche for himself outside the movie business in recent months.

A few months ago he secretly recorded some highly revealing confessions of tabloid journalist Paul McMullan for the New Statesmen.

In doing so he revealed – months ahead of much of the British media – that the News of the World were not just intercepting the phones of celebrities, but may have also been hacking the phones of murder victims:

Hugh Grant : Ah . . . I think that was one of the questions asked last week at one of the parliamentary committees. They asked Yates [John Yates, acting deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police] if it was true that he thought that the NoW had been hacking the phones of friends and family of those girls who were murdered . . . the Soham murder and the Milly girl [Milly Dowler].

Paul McMullan: Yeah. Yeah. It’s more than likely. Yeah . . . It was quite routine. Yeah – friends and family is something that’s not as easy to justify as the other things.

Although Nick Davies of The Guardian has doggedly led the way on this story, which large parts of the British press have shamefully resisted covering, Grant has become something of a celebrity spokesman against the excesses of the tabloid press.

Speaking on BBC 5 Live yesterday to Victoria Derbyshire, he not only stated his case eloquently but there was a lively discussion as his former tabloid nemesis McMullan joined him live on air.

Have a listen here:

He also appeared on the BBC News channel later in the day, where his second confrontation with McMullen became very popular on the web (many Reddit commenters seemed thrilled the the BBC media player literally goes up to 11):

> More on the News of the World phone hacking affair at Wikipedia
> 5 Live
> Peter Oborne of The Spectator on the code of silence that infects the British press

Documentaries Interesting TV

Ayrton Senna 1995 BBC Documentary

UK viewers can now watch the 1995 BBC documentary about Ayrton Senna online.

With Asif Kapadia’s new documentary about the Brazilian F1 driver at cinemas, it makes for a nice companion piece.

Presented by Steve Rider, the 50 minute programme features plenty of archive footage from Senna’s life and interviews with Frank Williams, Alain Prost, Gerhard Berger, Martin Brundle, Damon Hill, and Nigel Mansell.

Watch it in full here:

1995: Ayrton Senna – BBC Documentary. from EffOne Archives on Vimeo.

> Find out more about Ayrton Senna at Wikipedia
> Official website for the new Senna documentary


Hollywood Voices from the BBC Archives

The BBC have released a lot of their audio and visual archives online and it includes a treasure trove of  interviews with Hollywood legends.

The scope is pretty breathtaking and includes interviews with icons such as Charlie Chaplin, Rita Hayworth, John Huston, Gary Cooper, John Wayne, James Stewart, Ingrid Bergman and Katharine Hepburn.

Of particular note are those we don’t often hear on the TV or radio, such as Buster Keaton, Mary Pickford and Boris Karloff.

Here is an index of the current available interviews, which you can listen to by clicking on the relevant links below.


  • Charlie Chaplin (1952): A ’round table’ interview with a reluctant genius. [20 mins]
  • Mary Pickford & Gloria Swanson (1955): A glimpse into the lives of two stars of the silent screen. [29 mins]
  • Rita Hayworth (1956): Hayworth is interviewed about her latest film [4 mins]
  • John Huston (1959): In conversation with the director of ‘The Maltese Falcon’ (1941)  [28 mins]
  • Errol Flynn (1959): Flynn tries to persuade John Ellison to get his cheque book out.


  • Gary Cooper (1961): Gary Cooper explains why acting is not as easy as it looks. [2 mins]
  • Sidney Poitier (1961): The ground-breaking actor on his life and work. (6 mins)
  • Buster Keaton (1961) A conversation with the dead-pan comedian of the silent-movie era. [13 mins]
  • Edward G Robinson (1962): The Hollywood ‘heavy’ describes his love for beautiful things. [4 mins]
  • Bette Davis (1963): In conversation with Hollywood’s most feisty star. [30 mins]
  • John Wayne (1964): What makes a good Western? [3 mins]
  • Groucho Marx (1964): The Marx Brother keeps the laughs coming during a London press conference. (24 mins)
  • Boris Karloff (1965): Playing cinema’s most iconic monster. [3 mins]
  • Joan Crawford (1965): How a screen legend regards her adoring fans. [6 mins]
  • Maureen O’Sullivan (1966): ‘It’s better to be remembered as Tarzan’s mate than not be remembered at all.’ [14 mins]
  • Orson Welles (1968): The director, writer and actor answers a few questions. [3 mins]
  • Veronica Lake (1969): Lake talks about old-school Hollywood glamour. [6 mins]
  • Danny Kaye (1969): The varied career of the all-round entertainer. [23 mins]
  • Bing Crosby (1969): A chat with the cool crooner. [11 mins]


  • Cyd Charisse (c. 1971): The elegant dancer appraises Vincente Minnelli. [5 mins]
  • Alfred Hitchcock (1972): How the master of suspense applies music to his pictures. [13 mins]
  • Yul Brynner (1972): Getting to know Yul Brynner. [7 mins]
  • Fred Astaire (c. 1974): The actor and dancer describes his journey to box-office success. [79 mins]
  • Ginger Rogers (1974): Fred Astaire’s most celebrated co-star talks about their world-famous partnership. [63 mins]
  • Howard Hawks (c. 1974): The director discusses his films and working with Samuel Goldwyn. [52 mins]
  • Lena Horne (c. 1974): A trail-blazing career from the Harlem stage to Hollywood. [28 mins]
  • Stanley Donen (c. 1974): The director and choreographer describes working with Fred Astaire. [41 mins]
  • Merle Oberon (1974): Behind the scenes on ‘Wuthering Heights’. [13 mins]
  • Bob Hope (c. 1975): The early career of the funny man. [15 mins]
  • Deborah Kerr (1975): How ‘From Here to Eternity’ was just the beginning. [30 mins]
  • Donald O’Connor (c. 1975): How they ‘lived a lifetime’ on ‘Singin’ in the Rain’. [66 mins]
  • Gene Kelly (c. 1975): The energetic dancer on revolutionising the Hollywood musical. [70 mins]
  • Howard Keel (c. 1975): The rugged star of iconic Hollywood musicals speaks frankly about his career. [51 mins]
  • Joan Blondell (c. 1975): The ‘tough broad’ singer of ‘Remember My Forgotten Man’ recalls the early days of Hollywood. [16 mins]
  • Ray Bolger (c. 1975): The star of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ talks about the early days of Hollywood. [45 mins]
  • Ruby Keeler (c. 1975): Ruby Keeler talks about a career that began in the 1920s. [23 mins]
  • Henry Fonda (1975): In conversation with the legendary father of an acting dynasty. [16 mins]
  • Harold Lloyd (1976): It was hard work, but it was fun. [14 mins]
  • Robert Mitchum (1977): A brief interview with the actor about his latest film, ‘The Big Sleep’ [2 mins].
  • Billy Wilder (c. 1978) From ‘The Seven Year Itch’ to ‘Sunset Boulevard’. [46 mins]
  • Dorothy Lamour (c. 1978): The original ‘sarong girl’ talks about her Hollywood heyday. [28 mins]
  • George Sidney (c. 1978): The director of ‘Show Boat’ talks about getting Hollywood singing and dancing. [37 mins]
  • Glenn Ford (c. 1978): Memories of working at Columbia Studios under Harry Cohn. [44 mins]
  • James Stewart (c. 1978): One of Hollywood’s most enduring stars defends the ‘studio system’. [16 mins]
  • Joan Fontaine (c. 1978): The star of ‘Rebecca’ recalls the moguls of Hollywood. [23 mins]
  • Joseph Mankiewicz (c. 1978): The director of ‘All About Eve’ (1950) compares old and new Hollywood. [16 mins]
  • King Vidor (c. 1978): Pioneer film director King Vidor looks back on his Hollywood career. [26 mins]
  • Mickey Rooney (c. 1978): Mickey Rooney reflects on the movie moguls who influenced his career. [30 mins]
  • Sammy Cahn (c. 1979): The Oscar-winning composer and lyricist remembers some of the great studio bosses. [28 mins]#
  • Walter Pidgeon (c. 1979): Walter Pidgeon remembers Louis B Mayer. [41 mins]
  • Lauren Bacall (1979): Life without Bogart and a new career on Broadway. [21 mins]


  • Ingrid Bergman (1980): The star of ‘Casablanca’ recalls her life in movies and on the stage. [32 mins]
  • Charlton Heston (c. 1981): On Cecil B DeMille and working the ‘studio system’. [59 mins]
  • Cornel Wilde (c. 1981): From ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ (1952) to independent pictures. [58 mins]
  • William Wyler (c. 1981): Hollywood the hard way for the legendary film-maker. [97 mins]
  • Vincent Sherman (1981): Directing Bette Davis, Joan Crawford and Errol Flynn. [96 mins]
  • Frank Capra (1981): It’s a wonderful life for a movie director. [58 mins]
  • George Cukor (1981): The famous ‘woman’s director’ talks about his leading ladies. [9 mins]
  • James Cagney (1982): Acting: ‘It’s just a job.’ [3 mins]
  • Louise Brooks (1982): The silent-movie queen talks about acting. [1 min]
  • Jack Lemmon (1982): The double Oscar-winner in conversation about his career in films. [12 mins]
  • Miklos Rozsa (1984): In conversation with the prolific cinematic composer. [15 mins]
  • Kirk Douglas (1988): Why do men always have to be ‘macho’? [11 mins]
  • Shirley Temple (1988): Dimples, dancing lessons and J Edgar Hoover’s very comfortable lap. [4 mins]
  • Gregory Peck (1989): The actor and humanitarian recalls his most famous roles. [25 mins]


  • Stewart Granger (1990): Stewart Granger in conversation with Gloria Hunniford. [24 mins]
  • Fay Wray (1990): Why is ‘King Kong’ still so popular? [8 mins]
  • Katharine Hepburn (1991): Corinne Julius meets Hollywood’s ‘independent woman’. [16 mins]
  • Tony Curtis (1994): The irrepressible Tony Curtis in conversation with Nicky Campbell. [14 mins]
  • Doris Day (1995): A career in romance and the recovery of a lost album. [81 mins]


  • Debbie Reynolds (2010): Catching up with the ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ star. [11 mins]

> BBC Archive and follow them on Twitter
> Photo galleries of stars at the BBC 1930-1950 and 1950-70
> James Bond archive at the BBC


BBC Radio 4 Film Season

Radio 4 have announced details of their forthcoming film season which features various material from the BBC archives.

Running from January 14th-29th, there will be a range of programmes exploring the past, present and future of cinema.

Mohit Bakaya, Commissioning Editor, BBC Radio 4, says:

“Today people can watch films outdoors, in living rooms, in multiplexes, on phones, on planes, in cars… almost anywhere. And the digital revolution is changing how films are made and who the filmmakers are. Giving insight into this dynamic industry, Radio 4’s special season of programmes takes listeners to the heart of cinema and explores where our relationship with film is heading.”

The season includes programmes presented by historian and film critic David Thomson, broadcaster Francine Stock, artist filmmaker Isaac Julien, filmmaker Asif Kapadia, broadcaster Barry Norman, writer, journalist and broadcaster Matthew Sweet, with contributions from producer Sir David Puttnam, director Ken Loach and director Sam Mendes.

Radio 4’s The Film Programme and regular arts programme Front Row will also be supporting the season with special features on film.

To coincide with the season, the Radio 4 website has released over two hundred interviews with contemporary film stars, directors and producers broadcast on the network since 2002 via the Radio 4 Film Interview Collection.

Interviewees include: Ben Affleck, Clint Eastwood, Gwyneth Paltrow, Charlize Theron, the Coen Brothers, Helena Bonham Carter and Renee Zellweger.

In addition BBC Archive is also releasing a large collection of radio interviews with the stars of the ‘Golden Age’ of American cinema.

Hollywood Voices features broadcasts and unedited interviews with film stars of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, many of which are being made available in full for the first time.

This collection of interviews features Harold Lloyd, James Cagney, Debbie Reynolds and Rita Hayworth.

Further highlights include a ’round table’ with Charlie Chaplin; conversations with Buster Keaton and Louise Brooks on the early days of American cinema; a fiery exchange with Bette Davis; and an insight into the power of music courtesy of Alfred Hitchcock.

Two galleries of photos from the BBC stills library also provide a rare glimpse of Hollywood in and around the BBC from 1930-1970.

Film season programme information is as follows:

  • Going To The Flicks with Barry Norman on how the experience of going to the cinema in Britain has changed over the last century, as recalled through the voices of British cinema-goers. (Saturday 15th January, 8pm)
  • Acclaimed British director, Asif Kapadia, uncovers Exploding Cinema – a coalition of underground filmmakers who challenge listeners to rethink the ways they watch and rate film. (Sunday 16th January, 1.30pm).
  • In Brief Encounters, a series of 15 three-minute vignettes transport listeners to cinemas across the world to meet cinema owners, audiences and others whose lives revolve around film (Weekdays at 12.55pm, 4.55pm and within Front Row from 7.15pm starting Monday 17th January)
  • A ten-part narrative history film, Life At 24 Frames A Second, as interpreted by historian and film critic David Thomson; David takes listeners on a personal journey through how cinema has changed us. (Weekdays at 3.45pm from Monday 17th January)
  • Francine Stock presents a two-part series on Hollywood. In Hollywood: The Prequel, she examines this early example of globalisation, discovering exactly when and why it happened – despite the roots of many of Hollywood’s staple genres being found in Europe.
  • In Hollywood: The Sequel, Francine considers whether the digital revolution will impact the USA’s grip on the global market. (Tuesday 18th and 25th January, 9am)
  • Leading artist and filmmaker, Isaac Julien gives listeners an insider’s view to the approaches, issues, developments and setbacks facing leading artists working in film in Isaac Julien’s Guide to Artists Filmmaking. (Tuesday 18th January, 11:30am)
  • In the lead up to the film season, The Film Programme has looked at the growth in community cinema and the power of film to bring people together. In January, it features listeners’ film-viewing diaries and presenter Francine Stock will be tweeting about her film life during the season and beyond. In a special edition (Friday 21st January), Francine tries to set up her own pop up cinema event in Scotland. She enlists the help of experts but what she needs most is a director – will Ken Loach come to her rescue? (Fridays at 4.30pm and Sundays at 11pm)
  • In Pocket Cinema, Matthew Sweet looks at how the mobile phone is transforming the way people watch and make movies. The programme follows and features a specially commissioned ‘Pocket Film’ by British film director Gurinder Chadha which can be viewed on the Radio 4 website. (Sunday 23rd January, 1.30pm)
  • Radio 4’s Front Row will be running special features on film throughout the season – including an Oscar nominations special on Tuesday 25th January. (Weekdays at 7.15pm)
  • As the film season draws to a close, in a special Archive on 4, there’s another chance to hear highlights from the Brief Encounters series in Brief Encounters: A World View of Cinema. As well as an omnibus selection, listeners will hear from filmmakers and film experts who will be their guide to the global consumption of cinema. (Saturday 29th January, 8pm)

Exploding Cinema and Pocket Cinema will be part of The Radio 4 Choice podcast which can be downloaded here.

* N.B. It is worth noting that if you aren’t based in the UK, you will still be able to listen to these programmes as BBC Radio is available to international audiences *

> Radio 4 film season website
> BBC Archive’s Hollywood Voices

News TV

UK Election Live 2010

Interesting Technology TV

Tim Berners-Lee on the web he invented

The BBC series The Virtual Revolution aired on BBC2 over the last four weeks and explored the past, present and future of the world wide web.

If you are in the UK, you can watch all four episodes on iPlayer at the links below:

  1. The Great Levelling
  2. Enemy of the State
  3. The Cost of Free
  4. Homo Interneticus

The inventor of the web Tim Berners-Lee was interviewed for the series and in a neat touch the BBC has made available the raw interviews (or ‘rushes’ in film and TV speak) on their website.

Here is some of the interview which covers how people think when using the web; the ‘spirit of the web’; the impact of the web on nation states and web censorship.

Presenter Aleks Krotoski has also compiled a Flickr album of photos from filming the series:

Amusing News TV

Hugh Jackman on Jonathan Ross

Hugh Jackman was on The Jonathan Ross Show last night talking about the new Wolverine film.

Here it is in two parts:

> Hugh Jackman at the IMDb
> Official site for Wolverine


Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross call Andrew Sachs

In case you have been on holiday over the last few days (like BBC chief Mark Thomspon) you might have missed the incredible media storm over a phone call Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross made to Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs.

It actually went out on Brand’s Radio 2 show on Saturday 18th October (after being pre-recorded on Thursday 16th), but after the Mail on Sunday put the story on their front page all hell has broken loose with both of them getting suspended with even the Prime Minister condemning them (!).

The BBC aren’t rebroadcasting it, so if you missed it then here it is in 2 parts:

Here is their ‘viddycast’ after the show in which the commented on the call:

Although the whole thing has got out of hand, the main reason it spiralled out of control is the combination of the BBC not responding soon enough, shock amongst an older generation of licence fee payers that this kind of comedy goes on (even though it originally went out at after 10pm on a Saturday night) and a media feeding frenzy because this story has so many juicy elements that editors and hacks love (celebrity, outrage, the licence fee and even a classic TV show to boot).

Whatever you think about the original calls and reaction to them, one has to wonder why the BBC were so slow to react to a story like this.

Last night on Newsnight (the flagship current affairs show on BBC2) host Gavin Esler was in the surreal position of having a debate without a senior BBC figure. (David Elstein and comedian Nick Doody were left to discuss it – the segment appears at 26 mins into the programme, which you can watch on iPlayer)

After the trauma of the Hutton Report, the Blue Peter cat fiasco, Crowngate, not to mention the amount of time and money spent on retraining BBC journalists and producers about guidelines, you do have to ask how this pre-recorded show went out and why BBC management collectively passed the buck for 2 days whilst the story exploded in their face.

UPDATE 29/10/08: Russell Brand has now resigned and issued a statement.

> Download an MP3 of the call
> Find out more about Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross at Wikipedia
> BBC News report on the story and also have a timeline of events
> Maggie Brown of The Guardian on the affair


BBC Inside Out: Who Killed My Son?

Christine Lord is the mother of Andrew, a former colleague of mine who died last year of variant CJD.

She recently featured in an edition of the BBC current affairs program Inside Out which explored her battle to find out why her son died such a tragic and unnecessary death.

You can watch it on BBC’s iPlayer here or by clicking the image below:

As someone who knew and worked with Andy over a 2 year period, a lot of this programme was deeply upsetting.

Like many others who worked with him at Talk Radio and TalkSPORT I can testify that he was a genuinely lovely guy and a real pleasure to be around.

Christine has a website called Justice for Andy which you can visit here and has also written a piece for the Inside Out site here.

N.B. As with all iPlayer shows it will only be available for a few days and to UK viewers only. Although if anyone at the BBC is reading this, is there any chance of putting it up permanently on your YouTube channel?

UPDATE 07/07/08: You can now watch the programme by clicking on this link

> iPlayer link to the programme
> Christine’s piece for the BBC Inside Out website
> Justice For Andy site