What was that Programme?

For no good reason I can think of, an episode of Dr Kildare I saw rattles around and resurfaces every so often in my brain, on a timescale of roughly a decade, but without the regularity that might suggest.

It rattles mainly because I didn’t understood it. I must have known about surfing – it was about a girl surfer and I don’t remember being all ‘do people actually do that?’ about it. I remember Kildare telling her she mustn’t surf any more, but I must have missed what the reason was. All I have is ’why not? What’s the problem here?’ Naturally, she went ahead and did it anyway, and it didn’t end well. Was that the reason? Perhaps I wasn’t used to seeing unhappy-endings at that age.

Anyway, this Digital Archive of Radio Times from 1923 to 2009 turned up. 1923! It doesn’t seem to give you any access to actual page images – none I can find anyway. The magazine ran advertisements, so maybe they don’t want you seeing what was available for sixpence from Cadbury in 1950 or something.

But they’ve done an awful lot of work reformatting the information for presentation – and searchability – on the web. Very impressive. Not that the text is always accurate – there are spectacular misreadings from the optical character recognition – but that’s only to be expected from machines.

There’s evidence that entries have been corrected by human staff members, just not very much. So your searches are going to miss things. Members of the public are invited to correct the text and to add further information about the entries. Such crowdsourcing means that the information will always be freely available doesn’t it (say yes).

The folk at the BBC even ask you if the program whose listing you’re looking at was actually transmitted. You may find their lack of faith disturbing, but obviously the magazines were printed in advance and you couldn’t reasonably predict things which might interrupt the schedules. Like Churchill dying or Kennedys getting assassinated or whatever. Stuff like that.

So do have a go and clog up those BBC arteries with millions of HTTP requests.

Oh yes – the Dr Kildare thing. I found the episode – two of them (it was a double) split over successive pre-watershed Thursdays, the 6th and 13th February 1964. It was called Tyger-Tyger with guest star Yvette Mimieux, the text for part 1 saying A beautiful girl defies Dr. Kildare’s medical warning that she must give up surf riding. Part 2’s description says In spite of her condition and Dr. Kildare s protests, surf-rider Pat continues to take an active part in the sport. Surf-riding, eh? Interesting. Hyphens even. Is that the staid BBC or is ‘surfing’ not a thing yet?

So, on the whole, I’m none the bloody wiser. But wait – now I have Yvette Mimieux and can go to her page on IMDb and – result! Petit-mal seizures would you believe?

She drowns. Thanks, internet.

Well Played

It is Saturday 12 October 1912. The publication is PIP, London’s Penny Illustrated Paper, issue 2681. The section is “In The Green Room“, straplined “Chatty Notes about the Theatres, Music Halls, and Picture Palaces” on page 474. In the third column is a small paragraph claiming:

It is stated that to Americans the most interesting feature of the season so far is probably the presentation at the Globe Theatre of Kate Douglas Wiggin’s “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm“.


OK. So far, so non-committal. The play had opened at the Globe on September 2nd, and on page 368 of The Graphic (7 September) we find a brief review of the same:

It cannot be said that “Rebecca” is the equal of “Mrs. Wiggs,” or that it is as good as many other American plays; but sentiment is so curiously distributed that it may possibly prove a great success. To first-nighters, more critical than any subsequent audience at the play, it seemed decidedly mawkish. It is, of course, capitally played, as all American plays are.



I think.

The three photos were found on page 343.

Written in 1903, first dramatised in 1909, first filmed in 1917, and Shirley Templed in 1938.


How the King may travel to Paris – in Future: What the Conqueror did not foresee

Those looming ships and swarming monoplanes don’t make it look as if the tourists are particularly friendly. There’s a touch of the vortex in the drawing.

Have a look at the artist’s signature in the bottom left:


Although without the cubist angularity the sense of the unstoppability of technology is quite pronounced – and explicit, if a tad optimistic, in the accompanying text:

Once the Channel Tunnel is complete – and sooner or later it is bound to come – the tourist bound for France will have the choice of travel by land, sea and air.


I’ve been keeping an eye on Randall Munroe for years now. By which I mean – not to be all stalkery or anything – enjoying his stick-man comic strip. You have to (no, really, you do) applaud a guy who finds enough funny in the idea of context free grammars to make it today’s cartoon.

[audience looks around] ‘What just happened?’ ‘There must be some context we’re missing.’

It’s not so much that you had to be there. Although in this case you do as most of the humour is in the image’s title which you shall encounter only if you hover over it with your mouse (I add, possibly unnecessarily) on the actual website.

But he’s recently started up a new site. His drawings are no longer in strip form. Instead they illustrate answers to questions posed by fans. Here’s a bleeding chunk from his discussion of the robot apocalypse.

He talks about how probably the only large group of people who’d be hurt in such a scenario are those who’d be driving around when it happens:

While the cars might be able to control the throttle and disable the power steering, the driver would still control the steering wheel, which has direct mechanical linkage to the wheels. The driver could also pull the parking brake, although I know from experience how easily a car can drive with one of those on. Some cars might try to disable the drivers by deploying the air bags, then roll over or drive into things. In the end, our cars would probably take a heavy toll, but not a decisive one.

So probably the most at-risk-from-robots bunch of humans on the planet is the same as the most at-risk bunch of humans on the planet. Interesting. Yet, not. Hmmm.

If CDs were old tech


Inst Grat

The long-story form of a joke is designed to enhance the experience for the listener. But in our age of instant gratification and the short attention span, my listener becomes restive. Since it should be possible that a joke may remain funny if told another way, we try cutting down to the essence. Here goes:


Flood coming.
T offers escape: “Truck?” → X → “No thanks. God provides. Staying.“.
Ground floor floods, X upstairs.
B offers escape: “Boat?” → X → “No thanks. God provides. Staying.“.
Top floor floods, X on roof.
H offers escape: “Helicopter?” → X → “No thanks. God provides. Staying.“.
X drowns.
X in Heaven: “WTF?” → God → “Sent truck, boat, helicopter.


Does it still work? If not, there’s a long version available at radar.

Phoenix, Arizona

After fifty years (OK, fifty two now), Sam and Marion Crane’s hankipankerous hotel of choice still stands (at least, according to the google maps images of March, 2009 – there’s a lot of redevelopment going on around there).

At the southeast intersection of South Central Avenue and East Jefferson Street. Central Avenue runs north – south through the city centre. Jefferson runs east – west, and is a bit south of the centre. In fact it’s south of the city-crossing Van Buren – the other street of fame and of 50s motels.

This building now houses the Phoenix Police Museum. The window/door shown is the one just occluded by the front of the yellow bus shown in the other image. The museum’s website appears reticent regarding the building’s connection to the location shooting for Psycho. But I suppose, as nothing bad happened there, they wouldn’t be interested.