Friday, 22 November 2013

Friday 22nd November 1963 JFK's death remembered

Friday 22nd of November 1963: the day President John F Kennedy was shot dead in Dallas Texas. The next morning, 5,000 miles away in the Welsh seaside town of Aberystwyth, a seven year old boy and his younger brother, in matching blue dressing gowns, got up early while their parents and baby sister slept on. They listened to Tubby the Tuba on the large gramophone that filled the corner of the dinning room. Then, sitting on the cold carpet, they turned their attention to their Corgi and Matchbox cars, and pushed them along the fresh snail trails that had appeared over night.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Which lost Doctor Who story would you want returned? (Update)

It seems that the rumours about missing BBC TV programmes being found in various African countries may be true. BBC Worldwide are announcing the return of some long lost Doctor Who episodes at midnight tonight (10th October).

Sunday, 29 September 2013

A Beat -Up Root on the Eve of Nuclear Wart

Sometimes it's hard to get away from work. With the UK release of Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids - Nuclear Wart on DVD tomorrow, even my Sunday lunch somehow reminded me of the programme. 

The picture shows the remains of our roast veg. (By the way, the roast beetroot was delicious.)

Link to details about the new GRIZZLY TALES DVD .

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Brown Coat @ The Plough

My shabby brown coat has seen off Mrs Thatcher and has been seen in a Falmouth Chip Shop.  Now it's being displayed at The Plough in Torrington, in one of two exhibitions in Devon by artist Ashley Hanson   this month.

‘The New York Trilogy’
The Plough Arts Centre,
Great Torrington, Devon
5 July – 28 July
The Gloss Gallery
Exeter, Devon  
4 July – 24 July

Monday, 24 June 2013

What to do after GCSEs

After almost two months of GCSE exams and an exhausting prom, my eldest is sitting in front of the TV, with a large bowl of strawberries and cream, watching Wimbledon.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Missing Episodes

Boxes of 16mm film were returned to us for safe keeping. These are the original prints for our series Tube Mice.

Archiving television programmes does not have to take up much space in the 21st century. All data and edited programmes for our latest series of Grizzly Tales are stored on a couple of terabyte drives.

It has not always been as simple as this.

The BBC used expensive 2 inch video tape back in the black and white days of the nineteen sixties. They would routinely reuse the tapes once a programme had been transmitted.

Programmes deemed to have financial value and could be sold by BBC Enterprises were copied onto 16mm film: programmes like Dad's Army, Hancock's Half Hour and Not Only But Also.

In January 1970, BBC1 began transmitting in colour, and soon black and white TV was beginning to be phased out all over the world. By the mid seventies, believing that older monochrome programmes had little value left in them, BBC Enterprises started to destroy their archive of prints.

Wind back time two or three years to 1973. I was an Art Foundation student and we had a visit from the BBC to talk about careers in the organisation. The speaker was the deputy controller of BBC 1 who told us that his job was to watch television. He would watch the out-put of ITV every evening (this was long before the advent of day time TV) and then watch BBC1's out put during the day on a magical machine called a video recorder. He told us that very soon, we would all be able to record programmes at home or even hire or buy our favourite ones. The notion seemed incredible to us.

Showing us a Radio Times special of Doctor Who, he believed that there was mileage in selling programmes like that in order to finance new ones. It was unfortunate that BBC Enterprises did not have the same vision as most episodes of Doctor Who still existed at the time of his talk.


So am I.

We produced Wolves Witches & Giants on 35mm film but edited on video. Once completed, broadcaster Carlton Television kept the PAL master tapes. We could not afford to maintain expensive storage for the artwork and film prints, and Carlton made the decision to destroy them. The series still airs on CITV, but, had we and Carlton agreed someway of saving the 35mm film, it could have had a new HD lease of life.

As for the BBC, rumours suggest that many black and white prints have been found in TV stations across Africa. Maybe some of those black and white episodes of Doctor Who and Pete and Dud have survived after all.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

A few clues about my novel

It's about time I published a few words from the children's novel I've been crafting over the last few months.

Chapter 1 introduces the main protagonist and contains the words 'Squealed', 'Victoria Station' and 'Bishop's'.

Chapter 2 sees our protagonist feel the full force of the law and uses the words 'Waterloo' and 'Warehouse' in the same sentence.

Chapter 3 is set on the other side of the river and uses words such as 'Reggae', 'Enthusiastic' and 'GCSE'.

Chapter 4 opens with the line, ‘Breakfast is on the table. Come down at once.’

A mirror and a hooded-man feature in the plot.

A pair of glasses are broken.

The first word in the novel no longer begins with an 'H', but now starts with the full name of the protagonist.

The first letter of the title is still 'B'.

The final chapter is set in the same location as the first.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Kings Cross portal

It's not just the Hogwart's Express that makes Kings Cross a magical place.  This window states that it has moved to platform 8, even though it is clearly still where it always was.

Harry Potter's Platform 9 & 3/4

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Today, today is the 1st of May

"Today, today is the first of May," sang David Bowie as I was driving through the Devon countryside this Mayday morning.

The Next Day, his first album in a decade, has been sitting in drive of the CD player of my car since my two children clubbed together to buy me the deluxe edition. The line is from the opening of "I'll Take You There," the last of the three, rather good, bonus tracks.

In fact the album is the most enjoyable offering from David Bowie since the early eighties; other than the delightful, "Little Fat Man" put down of Ricky Gervais's character in Extras.

There are nods to the past in The Next Day; my favourite track being "You Feel so Lonely", which is a mature version of "Rock and Roll Suicide" from Ziggy Stardust. There's an echo of "The Width of a Circle" in the "The Stars (Are Out Tonight". "Heat" appears to be about a Berliner's inherited guilt, complete with with a haunting violin which evokes the Jewish ghetto.

My 17 year old nephew thinks that "I'd Rather Be High" is the best track on the CD; Bowie does seem to have written this from the perspective of a 17 year old. In fact it could have been written in the sixties. How music history could have changed if he had released this, rather than "The Laughing Gnome" back in 1967.

It was the single "Drive in Saturday" that made me a Bowie fan forty years ago. I thought it was so cool that, in the pre music-video-age, he had made a film to go with the song, rather than perform on Top Of The Pops in person.  With lines like, "Pour me out another phone" and "She Smiled like Twig the Wonder-kid" this was different to the other offerings in the charts.

After the health issues Bowie has endured over the past few years, I'm glad he's back on form, and still just as cool in his sixties.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

The Song of The Sea

Print by Simon Bor

A mile or so south east of Land's End you'll find a sandy cove. Exposed to the Atlantic, the sea has worn a narrow channel into the cove, which is called "The Song of the Sea".

It could have been the inspiration for the cover of Devil's Rock; the book by Devon based writer, Chris Speyer and published by Bloomsbury in 2009.

Devil's Rock Amazon page.

It was also the location for the 1966 Doctor Who story, The Smugglers.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Twelve Legs of Lamb

Our neighbours are bottle feeding three lambs. The trouble with this is that they are as tame as a cat or dog.

I was making myself a nice cup of coffee, when I heard something behind me. The three lambs had left my neighbour's garden, crossed our orchard and skipped into my kitchen.

My dog was a surprised as I was; she attempted to round them up, but one head butt from the male lamb sent her running for cover.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

First Letter of Novel Title

Work on the novel continues. I'm now able to tell you that the first letter of the title is a 'B'.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Wolves Revisited

Wolves Witches and Giants was written by Ed Welch and narrated by Spike Milligan. It ran on ITV between 1995 and 1999 and went on to be shown in around 100 territories and won the Best Children's Entertainment award at the Royal Television Society. Today, the programme is still shown on the CiTV channel in the UK. Since making that series, Sara Bor and I have co-produced and directed eight series of Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids based on the books by Jamie Rix.

So how would I tackle the story of Little Red Riding Hood in 2013?

This is how: here's an extract from my short story,  Bad Mr Wolfe.

‘Is there something wrong Mrs Hood?’ I had unloaded the ivy-clad logs into to the lean-to shed and was returning to the pick-up to fish out the invoice.
    ‘It’s Ginger. She took some cake over to Mom’s house this afternoon. She should have been back by now.’
    ‘Have you phoned your Mother?’
    ‘That’s what’s so weird, she’s not picking up. Would you mind dropping in Cubby? It’ll be dark soon, Ginger ought to stay the night with Mom.’

A crow would have taken five minutes to get to her mother’s house, but the metalled track snaked through the woods that encircled the razor-wired grounds of the Loup Hall Asylum.
    It was dark by the time my tyres crunched the gravel outside old Mrs Hood’s cottage. There was something wrong. By now her fire should have been lit and the light in her kitchen should have illuminated the cottage garden.
    A blood-curdling scream filled the night air.
    I rushed to the front door, smashing the lock with the butt of my chainsaw. As I ran down the hall, there were sounds of a struggle coming from the kitchen. I forced opened the door. There in front of me was the shape of Mrs Hood, grappling with the door of the old larder.

You can read rest of the short story HERE or visit and go to the Fiction page.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

The Coat and the City of Glass

I was with an artist friend of mine, eating fish and chips in Falmouth.  He turned to me and asked me where I had got my coat from.

Despite my wife and kids telling me I look like a tramp in it, readers of this blog will know how attached I am to my coat, so I was pleased with the interest.

However, my friend went on to say that he was looking for a beat up old brown coat for reference in a series of paintings. 

Later, in Ashley Hanson's Bodmin studio, he talked through the ideas behind his latest, impressive, painting in his City of Glass series, as well as taking some reference shots of the coat. He tells the story behind these painting in his blog:

Informed by the writings of Paul Auster, the series takes it's name from  the first book in his The New York Trilogy.


Edward (Teddy) Bor 1921-2013

My father's funeral was held on the 18th January 2013. This is my eulogy from the service. 

My father was a man who lived and breathed music. He thought music, often giving the impression of being vague to the outside world.

Although music was at the heart of family life in the Bor household, popular music was frowned upon. Dad did buy us a copy of “She Loves You”, as Andrew (my brother) and I were Beatle mad, but soon even the fab four were not to be encouraged. Dad recorded with The Bath Festival Orchestra at Abbey Road and was horrified to find that the group of screaming girls outside were waiting for Paul and John rather than Yuhudi Menuhin. The world had gone mad as far as he was concerned.

Music was a serious business to Dad, but he had a comic alter-ego, Professor Teddy Bor. Based on violinist Max Rostal, who taught both my parents, Dad would put on a thick European accent and play on his “exploding” violin, an old saleroom bargain he had unglued and reassembled with pins. One tug and the whole thing fell to bits in front of his audience. Two of his jokey compositions were published, and these are played all over the world. Violinist Gidon Kremer included them on several CD and DVD releases and sent these words of condolence on hearing the news of Dad’s passing.

“It was a real privilege for many years to feel connected to Teddy Bor via many music pieces I had performed myself and as well with my orchestra. All of us, along with our audiences around the globe, have enjoyed his masterfully written witty scores. So many times they served us as brilliant encores on tours and I am sure these beautiful compositions will accompany us further.”

Dad’s courage, during his final decade of ill health, was inspirational. He continued teaching violin until his late eighties and edited the book that celebrated the centenary of his older sister Hilda Bor.

A video by Teddy's grandson, Fred Burns, to promote his book.

Bob Godfrey 1921 -2013

Bob Godfrey, drawn by Simon Bor 1977

I chose to study Graphic Design at St Martins School of Art in 1975 mainly because it was claimed that Bob Godfrey was a lecturer there. Unfortunately, it turned out that he no longer visited the art school. As things worked out, I was to be taught by Bob for the final two years of college life, when I transferred to Farnham's Animation course.

It was Bob's maverick approach to animation that had attracted me to the subject. Roobarb and Custard being the bravest children's series on BBC at the time and his Do it yourself Animation Show making it all seem so assessable.

His guidance on the animation course was invaluable. After leaving college I made a children's film and set out to look for work. Bob was one of the first people to see this. The same day he had watched a film by another Farnham student. Bob told me how easy that person would find work in the animation industry, a student that could walk into any studio as an animator. He told me that I would find it a lot more difficult. He wouldn't be able to give me any work because I was looking for HIS job. He thought I should use the film to get my own series off the ground.

I never did work for Bob, other than helping out a freelance animator who was doing a small job for him, but I did go on to set up a studio with my wife and produce over twenty animated series.

It was so sad to hear that Bob had passed away. Only two weeks younger than my own father, Bob Godfrey out lived him by just over a month.

Out of my head

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