James Bond will return - promises the closing credits of many a 007 movie. Now the future of the action franchise seems a little less assured, passing through another period of change with Daniel Craig unlikely to reprise the role as MI6's favourite secret agent.
Bond met a new challenge with Spectre, coming under fire from critics as a competent if unremarkable and formulaic romp. In the midst of murmurings over whom the new Bond should be, I suggest 10 things which should be considered for a future Bond.
Following the 50th anniversary of hit puppet series Thunderbirds, a unique trio of adventures are released this month as part of a Kickstarter campaign to bring the classic Supermarionation series back for one final outing.
In the Sixties, several audio-only Thunderbirds adventures were released commercially on vinyl. Three of these were original stories, unique from the broadcast series and featuring the voices of the original cast, including Sylvia Anderson as Lady Penelope and David Graham as Parker.
Some fifty years later, these recordings have been expanded and restored to form the basis for three newly-produced episodes, employing the traditional Supermarionation techniques and effects which made the original series a global phenomenon.
End of Part One arrived on screens in 1979. Devised by David Renwick and Andrew Marshall, the series borrowed concepts from Monty Python’s Flying Circus and paved the way for satirical sketch shows such as Not the Nine O’Clock News and The Fast Show.
The first season of End of Part One centres roughly around the Straightman couple who are the latest inhabitants of a northern soap opera. As they go about their lives they collide with characters from other shows, stumbling into commercial breaks and encountering all manner of technical effects. Essentially a bridge between sketches and impersonations, Norman and Vera’s scenes clearly attempt to subvert the inanity of Seventies’ soap and sitcom, effectively slaughtering Coronation Street and twisting the knife in Terry and June.
An Audience With Jasper Carrot, the breakthrough 1977 series for the famous stand-up comedian, saw its premier release on DVD almost thirty-five years since its original broadcast on ITV.
Jasper Carrott’s stand-up routines, once a staple diet of televised comedy during the Eighties and Nineties, have taken a backseat with his last offering, Back to the Front, broadcast over fifteen years ago. Incredibly popular at the time with family audiences, Carrott’s shows have been eclipsed in recent years, and to younger viewers he is perhaps something of a mystery. As such, the DVD release of An Audience With gives a new generation the opportunity to experience the popular performer anew, as a comic talent who defined the new wave of observational comedy which is so prevalent today.
Cast: Peter Dyneley, David Graham, Bob Monkhouse, Shane Rimmer, Ray Barrett, Neil McCallum, Sylvia Anderson, Christine Finn, Charles Tingwell, Jeremy Wilkin, Paul Maxwell, Matt Zimmerman, Alexander Davion
Director: David Lane
Writers: Gerry Anderson and Sylvia Anderson
Released By: Fabulous Films
Duration: 89 minutes & 85 minutes
Release Date: June 15, 2015
Reviewed On: Blu-ray
In 1965 Gerry Anderson led his team at AP Films to produce one of the most expensive and enduring television programmes of all time. Thunderbirds was the culmination of several years experience in the creation of adventure drama with marionettes and scale models, utilising cutting-edge technology and special effects to present a futuristic world. Filmed using a process coined Supermarionation, Anderson’s shows were unique in their unmatched production values, perilous stories and orchestral scores, evidenced by the popularity of Thunderbirds fifty years on.
The entirety of audiences in 1965 experienced Thunderbirds in low resolution monochrome, on comparatively small television screens. Regardless of the broadcast limitations of the time, the explosive bravura of the series shone through and Thunderbirds was a huge success in Europe, enjoying a phenomenon which was expected to spread to the lucrative American market. ITC’s Managing Director, Lew Grade, was so pleased with Thunderbirds that he quickly funded a project to bring a movie version to the big screen. Capitalizing on the show’s popularity, a cinematic adaptation would offer all the action and adventure in full Technicolor with a widescreen frame. Scripted by Gerry and produced by Sylvia Anderson, Thunderbirds Are Go was released through United Artists shortly before the Christmas of 1966.
Charlie Chaplin is arguably one of the most important figures in the history of cinema. Famous for the creation of the moustachioed Little Tramp, he produced over eighty films and was the highest paid performer of his time. Chaplin became, by his own conviction, more famous than Jesus Christ.
Between 1916 and 1917, Chaplin signed a record-breaking $670,000 deal with Mutual films to produce twelve two-reels films running at approximately 25 minutes a piece. Chaplin was by now in his mid-twenties and at the height of his creative powers, having previously worked extensively with the Keystone and Essanay film companies. He later recalled that his year with Mutual was the happiest professional period of his career.
In 1994 Yorkshire Television embarked on an ambitious project to produce a film anthology series of adult horror stories. The result was Chiller, a collection of five fifty-minute films exploring the supernatural, featuring recognisable leading actors from the time.
As motion pictures became popular in the early 20th Century, so followed the phrase, “A picture paints a thousand words”. It is uncertain exactly where that famous adage originated, though some scholars cite a Japanese proverb as the inspiration. What is known, however, is that it was propagated in America, at a time when Hollywood became the locus of the motion picture industry. Cinema is arguably the greatest innovation in entertainment since the invention of theatre, and at less than 150 years old, it is the subject of Marc Cousins’ ambitious documentary.
Chapter 4: Gothic Cities
As a cornerstone in the history of mainstream popular fiction, the traditional Gothic novel of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century set the precedent for a genre of writing which assumed a less fashionable stature in the refined Victorian age. An epoch such as the nineteenth-century, populated by authors striving towards moralistic and intellectual works of literature, disregarded the subversively grotesque literature of shock and horror. However, Victorian novels often assimilated features which are indicative of the Gothic genre. The representation of the city in nineteenth-century literature is a fine example of how seemingly contemporary settings can be transformed into a Gothicised location; a space of transgression, where norms of society are perverted and asserted in various spaces, and where ominous and awe inspiring architectural landscapes are inhabited by monstrous figures derived from hideous strands of society. The composition of the Gothic genre, ideally location, transgression and character, as discussed in this chapter, are evidently key features that are employed in the realisation of the city in the Victorian novel.
Chapter 3: Industrial Bodies
The structural composition of the city can be seen as a consequence of industrial expansion in the nineteenth-century. The revolutionising of methods of production, the incentive to improve technologically and to increase commercial productivity, was at the heart of Victorian industry. The core of this industry can be located within the city itself; a veritable model of productivity where capitalism and consumerism act as the sustenance for the working populous, the lifeblood of the city mechanism. In 1848, Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx collaborated on The Communist Manifesto, waxing lyrically on the virtues of communist social strategies by targeting the malignancy of exploitative industrial growth and capitalism. Composed in the same epoch as the literary texts studied in this investigation, there are intriguing parallels and conflictions between these historical political works and the novels of Dickens and Eliot, regarding their reasoning for the existence of cities as industrial and commercial centres, and the political agendas that arise as a consequence. For Marx and Engels, industrial growth gave way to the expansion of the city as a productive device:
It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life.
(Marx, Engels, 1848, p.6)
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