Detectorists

Detectorists

Over the last few weeks I’ve loved watching a beautifully-written, gentle comedy called Detectorists on BBC Four. Most episodes I’ve watched at least twice.

The show stars its writer and director Mackenzie Crook, who in an interview on BBC One Crook described the story as “an affectionate study of people and their pastimes”.

I love the intimacy and the seeming smallness of the show. There are TV shows that are fast-paced and sensationalist, dealing with spies and the security services, or investigating police cold cases, or hospital dramas dealing with life and death situations. So much TV is escapist, and I guess to an extent this is too, but there is so much real life in this series. It’s a celebration of the subtleties and the goodness found in every day life.

Detectorists centres around the lives and relationships of two friends, Andy and Lance, who share a love of metal detecting (which makes them detectorists) who are looking for the ship burial site of an ancient Saxon king.

The casting is brilliant, particularly Mackenzie Crook as Andy, Toby Jones as Lance, and Rachael Stirling as Andy’s girlfriend Becky. And the music is just sublime, a specially-written song by folk singer-songwriter Johnny Flynn.

The show has such beautifully written dialogues, like this one between Andy and Lance who are trying to decide where next to look for treasure.

Andy: This farm here… I don’t remember anyone going there before, do you? Look, this is the original Roman road running up the side. And where you’ve got Roman, who’s to say you haven’t got Saxon as well. We all know there’s a Saxon ship burial somewhere in this  part of the county. We’ve just got to find it first.

Lance: Saxon hoard? That’s basically the holy grail of treasure hunting.

Andy: Well, no, the holy grail is the holy grail of treasure hunting.

Lance: Well, if you’re going to be pedantic. The ark of the covenant is the holy grail. Let’s talk to Terry…

I don’t often buy TV series on DVD, but I definitely want to pick up Detectorists (BBC, 2014); I already have the theme tune, written by Johnny Flynn.

Richard Holloway on BBC HARDTalk

First broadcast on Tuesday 27 August 2013 this is a remarkably moving and honest interview with the former Bishop of Edinburgh, Richard Holloway.

I’ve always loved +Richard. As my bishop I found him compassionate, loving, and intellectually challenging: he always encouraged me to keep searching for the truth, to keep asking questions.

Is the BBC News website really a porn site?

With the boys getting a bit older and taking more of an interest in the internet I’ve started looking into installing an internet filter to protect them while we’re browsing online.

There have been a couple of times when I’ve clicked on an innocent-looking video title on YouTube, for example, only to discover that’s it’s not as advertised. Like rickrolling, but more sinister.

While researching Google Chrome extensions I discovered this one called Christian Anti-Porn:

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What it lacks in pornography it more than makes up for in gruesome images, this one taken from the Mel Gibson-directed ‘horror movie’ The Passion of the Christ (2004).

I installed it—fully understanding that it’s not a complete internet filter package—and gave it a quick test. What if I were to try to visit the Playboy UK website, for example? Sure enough, it blocked it, showed me a bloody and gruesome photograph of Our Lord on the cross, and a couple of inspirational verses from the Bible:

For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries (Heb 10:26-27).

But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. (Isa 53:5)

Great! It works, I thought.

By “works”, I mean it prevented me from viewing a pornographic website. I certainly didn’t feel inspired by it. It didn’t make me feel any closer to God. I think it may have had something to do with the horrific photograph of a man being tortured to death on the page.

I know that the cross is central to the message of the Gospel. But actually, I’m with Jürgen Moltmann on this one: you can’t separate the crucifixion from the resurrection. It was the crucifixion of the resurrected Christ; the resurrection of the crucified Christ.

Surely they could have found a more inspirational photograph. Like a sunset, or a butterfly, or a waterfall.

Anway, I didn’t think any more of it and carried on with my evening’s browsing. I was working on my last blog post about browser new tab pages, and testing my new myfav.es bookmarks.

Imagine my surprise when I visited the BBC News website:

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The BBC News website is porn?!

But I’ve got an app for that installed on my mobile phone.

And Facebook was blocked too. Apparently, it’s also a porn site. I didn’t know that. My Mum’s on Facebook!

And Google+ is too, it would appear.

I’ve uninstalled it. I’ll look for something else. But for now at least I know to keep the boys away from watching the news.

The app ideas on The Apprentice were rubbish… how hard can it be?

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I’ve just finished watching the second episode of the current series (series 7) of The Apprentice on BBC 1 during which the challenge was for the two teams to design, launch and promote their own mobile phone app[lication].

The boys created a border-line racist app with annoying voices. The girls an app with annoying sounds.

If I’d been on The Apprentice I’m sure I could have come up with better ideas. In fact, I’m going to prove it by blogging my ideas live. Right now. Watch:

  • IDEA #1: Often you’ll be out and about with your phone. Maybe you’re running late, perhaps for an interview or a meeting. Maybe you’re just tired. Why not create a mobile phone app that’s also a bike, so you can just sit on it and it will allow you to pedal yourself to your destination!

Genius! See how easy that was?

  • IDEA #2: An app that makes the most out of the accelerometer (motion sensor) built into a lot of mobile devices these days. So it’s an app that helps you tie your tie. You first attach your mobile phone to the end of your tie, using bulldog clips or elastic bands or something, then the app talks you through tying a tie: “That bit over and then under and then through…”

Wow! I’m on a roll.

  • IDEA #3: Jane and I like our toast to be different levels of cooked-ness. Jane likes hers to be very brown, I like mine to be borderline hot-bread. How about an app that you run, tell it what colour brown you’d like your toast to be, then you pop your phone into the toaster (beside your slice of bread) and it will play an alarm when your toast has reached the right level of brown. Obviously it would need to use the camera for that.

Practical! Although, I suspect like a lot of apps that’s one that will not be used very often. Presumably because it would help educate folks about how long bread needs to be in the toaster until it reaches their ideal state.

  • IDEA #4: How about an app that you run when you’re standing next to a busy road. The interface would be nice and simple. First you enter your average walking speed in (metres per hour or fathoms per second), then you press a “check now!” button which activates your device’s in-built camera which you point first one direction and then the next, pausing for a minimum of 7 seconds each direction. Then… and this is the really clever bit… the app will play an alert of your choosing (from the three available: a horn; the sound of a gibbon slurping ice cream; or the same horn, but played in French) so you know when it’s safe to cross the road.

I imagine that that’s the kind of app that could save lives.

See! Not a single idea there that involves racist stereotypes or annoying sounds.

BBC Radio 1’s longest show ever with Chris Moyles and Comedy Dave for Comic Relief

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I’ve been really enjoying Chris Moyles and Comedy Dave on BBC Radio 1 for the last 40+ hours, not that I’ve been listening to it all, raising money for Comic Relief.

Much respect.

This screenshot above amused me, from the BBC Radio homepage:

  • On now: The Chris Moyles Show
  • On Next: The Chris Moyles Show

How does he do it?

Incidentally, this is probably the most I’ve listened to BBC Radio 1 for years.