Excuse me while I enter geek mode for a moment, but I've just read some very exciting news: Blake's 7 is all set for a comeback. While it's all still in pre-production, and many things could prevent the plans from becoming a reality, the producers are hoping that an initial mini-series will lead to a full-on revival.

This can only be a good thing for sci-fi on TV, which is currently in something of a slump after the feast of the early 90s.

Blake's 7 was a major part of my childhood. Even though the Doctor accompanied me deep into adolescence, Blake's short life had a much greater influence in my formative years than the Time Lord. And although the BBC never afforded it the kind of budget that Star Trek enjoyed, and some of the production values showed that very clearly, even to an eight-year-old, for me Blake's 7 always had more backbone and balls than the American show.

Major characters died, betrayal was rife, cowardice was a fact of life, the universe was painted in shades rather than primary colours, and sex was very obviously a powerful weapon. And in Servalan, it gave me my first taste of how truly scary yet alluring some women could be.

According to the show's official website , they're aiming to make the new mini-series as The West Wing meets The Dirty Dozen in space. Not sure what that means, but it's sure to be worth watching.

The best bit for me, if this all comes off, is that Paul Darrow will be returning as Avon. Avon was always my favourite, dubious morals, mercenary streak, cynicism and all.

And in spite of the crew's seemingly fatal shootout with Federation troops at the end of the last episode, I've always maintained that Avon survived. More than 20 years I've held this belief, and now I feel vindicated.

So at the risk of appearing to be an ungracious winner, to all those who ever disagreed with me: I told you so. :p


Maida Vale stinks. Literally.

For several weeks there's been a deeply unpleasant smell lurking around the middle of the road outside our flat, and by its nature, there can be very few doubts about the origin. As the summer heat has baked the streets, the inadequacies of the capital's Victorian sanitation system have become apparent. London's sewers have a lot to answer for. Well, it's either them or a local serial killer. Whatever the reason, the unmistakable odour of decay has steadily gained more ground.

Underground Zero seems to be about two doors down, but despite its presence, no one in the eight houses most affected by the stench appears to have done anything about it. Admittedly I'm as guilty as anyone in this collective lethargy, but now the stench has made it personal: it's coming in through the sitting room window. You might not think that too remarkable given how long it's been hanging around, but we live on the second floor for goodness sake (and for those of you reading in American, that's the one three storeys up). That's some stink.

I'm deeply unhappy with this ongoing assault on my senses. As if the lifetime sentenced to poor eyesight wasn't bad enough, the recently recurring deafness and tinnitus are more than any man should have to put up with. So you'll understand why I resent my neighbours' shit getting up my nose.

Enough of this apathy. The gloves are off. Westminster Council, I'm coming to get ya...


Forgot to mention yesterday that it was the ninth anniversary of me joining the BBC. I can clearly remember my first day on the Songs of Praise Football Special in Manchester, and how much the team above me needed whipping into shape.

Been through a lot since then: old time religion, interminable short-term contracts, fancying far too many married women, seemingly terminal decline, likely redundancy, an online renaissance being coaxed back to life by Tiles and Deborah, chummy chats with Mark and Lard, then the move down to London, gambling on the opportunities offered to smaller fish in bigger ponds (which seems to be paying off), and a good few free hangovers thrown into the bargain. Not too shabby for what was only meant to be a 10-week contract.

I only hope that whenever I decide what I really want to do with my life, that I'm fortunate enough to be even half as successful.


On the way into town for my regular blood-letting (donor centre excitingly full of apparent first-timers; cute but kinky nurse who insisted I loved the sensation of needles puncturing my skin), a couple of things caught my eye.

The first (or rather the second) was someone in a large dog suit patrolling the street outside the Disney Store handing out leaflets of some kind. Given the hot, sunny weather and my own six months inside the giant hairy beaver, the poor person had my sympathy in lashings. But I couldn't help laughing when the six-foot St Bernard approached a two women with a child in a pram, causing the little girl to freak out completely despite her mother's best efforts to display how friendly the big doggie was. What with the guilt of scaring toddlers to death and the frustration caused by being unable to retaliate against little brats who decide to take on the big teddy in a fist-fight, the lot of the giant promotional mascot is not a happy one...

But before this, I noticed an event being promoted in the window of an Ann Summers shop on Oxford Street (current top seller, the Rampant Rabbit). Apparently 31st July has been declared National Orgasm Day. Quite what they're aiming for with this, I'm not sure. Especially given the fact that the next day, 1st August, is National Blonde Day (presumably courtesy of Reese Witherspoon).

It seems anyone can declare a National Day for something or other nowadays. Surely there must be some official vetting process. Or are all our dates now up for sale?

Maybe I should take advantage of this and declare a National Something Day myself. Any suggestions?


Once again, I'm cursing my big mouth and loose tongue.

It appears I've accidentally offended a friend by disclosing information about them which I mistakenly believed to be in the public domain. Apparently while they've no problem with certain people knowing certain facts, they want to be in control of the range and flow of information.

And that's only fair, because the thing I've been telling is theirs to tell, not mine, however helpful I think I'm being. My friendship with people blurs the boundaries that I should be able to see clearly.

Of course, if something's secret, it's secret, and I'll play that right down the line. It's those non-secret secrets that tax my powers of discretion.

I tend to assume that because I've been told something without being asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement, I can act as a spokesman or agent for the person in question should issues related to the details come into conversation with third parties. This, as I should have learnt by now, is rarely the case.

It's something that's dogged me throughout life, both in friendships and within my family. Indeed, my own father has called me a shit-stirrer on more than one occasion for such errors of judgement.

It's not that I'm a gossip - I honestly don't think I am - but I'll acknowledge that I've always had a tendency to be too open with other people's information. I just innocently like to know what makes people tick so I can relate to them more effectively, and naively think that other people will only be interested in such things for the same reason, rather than using them to judge people by and in information-trading or as tools of manipulation. I've also tended to believe the more people know about those around them, the better they'll understand each other, and that dissemination of such information can only be A Good Thing. Alas, this appears not be the way many other people see it.

I'm getting better at keeping my mouth shut, but this seems to have slipped under the wire. I just wish I'd known sooner.

So to the secret person concerned, please accept my non-secret apologies. Nuff said.


There's an ominously dark place in my head which is responsible for some unpleasant thoughts and outbursts, somewhere I used to visit a lot in my teens, but not so much nowadays. However, very occasionally events get the better of me.

Leaving a Cardiff multi-storey car park on Thursday afternoon, the last thing Mum and I expected to encounter was a man driving up the steep, twisting exit ramp, putting him on a collision course with us. Not reversing, mind, but actually driving up the down slope. To get there he must have passed at least three signs informing him that this was not the direction in which he wanted to go, any one of which he or his wife could be expected to have spotted.

I had a headache at the time, so perhaps unsuprisingly the fact that this imbecile forced Mum to back into the car behind her (itself not holding its distance, but hardly at fault), prompted a torrent of abuse that might shock even those who know me best or are used to my encounters with dodgy computers. This tirade was, of course, expressed from the safety of a passenger seat and towards the man's boot as he neglected to make any kind of apology and carried on looking for a place to park.

But quite where I dredged up the suggestion some minutes later that Mum might want to have the halfwit shot and then piss in his wife's mouth, I don't know. Maybe I should learn to let go.


I'm supposed to be on holiday in Sweden. Unfortunately my dear old friend Christian changed his summer plans without mentioning anything until it was too late to change my leave dates, and now I can't get free for his revised invitation.

So rather than visiting Chris and Ulla-Karin and getting to meet their baby daughter Signe, this reality sees me in an offensively muggy, secluded Welsh village, where hostilities between maternal parent and youngest sibling are reaching something of a climax, and access to blogging interface is limited to the hours when the folks aren't nurturing their embryonic business, thus tying up computers and phone lines.

During a brief pause in last night's row between Mum and Josh (in which I caught some shrapnel for failing to pronounce properly the Ts in 'spaghetti') I wondered aloud why I come here so often. It was a joke. Of course, later on, when Mum used the comment as evidence that all her children hated if not her, then certainly the home she'd created in Wales, I had to offer reassurance that the comment had been flippant, and certainly hadn't been intended to be taken seriously.

Regrettably, Mum blames herself for being the driving force behind the move from Halifax to Llancarfan, for tearing Josh away from his roots (consequently sparking his resentment of her), and for depriving me and Thomsk of a long-familiar habitat we knew as home. She shouldn't. Home is where the family is, not what they live in. The house they left, Ellen Royd, was a vessel, a good ship, but all journeys must end somewhere.

And Mum and Josh will be fine. He's still growing, still trying to find himself. One's not meant to appreciate one's family at the age of 18, and us Fell boys have always made a point of doing things late. So despite the continuing friction, I'm not worried.

Anyway, truthfully, there's no mystery in why I come back at all...

The bottle of gin and large jar of Spanish eucalyptus honey out of the deal this time, mean it's all good. :)


As has been mentioned, dancing's not something I make a habit of. Just occasionally, though, circumstances demand that I take to the floor. And today I have sore legs, for last night's work summer party was one such occasion.

The party itself, though enjoyable, could have been something of a damp squib by the department's standards. The majority of BBC News Online seemed not to be tempted by the offer of an evening of free drinks at the Westminster Boating Club, and most of those who came left rather early. But not the stalwart lot I have the pleasure of working with. One can always rely on them to hang the rest and make the party swing.

And when the clock struck midnight, and the free drink dried up, we were in the mood for more. So off into town it was, just nine hardened livers on a suicide mission. And though the club we ended up in was barely worthy of the name, no more than an mammoth Australian theme bar with delusions of grandeur, it did at least provide the opportunity for drinks and dancing into the wee smalls.

Three dancefloors, thousands of heaving bodies, a determination among my friends and colleagues to pick the area with the worst possible musical selection (Blink 182, Run DMC vs Jason Nevins, House of Pain, the obligatory Grease megamix, harmless enough but soulless) and spurn the advances of the true club music on offer in the basement. If you're going to ask me to dance, you'd better play something worthy of my attention, tunes that will commit to the moment every bit as much as I need to. For me, dancing is all or nothing. So in this environment, there were surely just two possible outcomes: I'd either have to hate it or drink myself into submission.

Yet I was saved from either fate by Indy. She seemed to have similar yearnings for the base, primitive rhythms provided by the trance and dance downstairs. So we two abandoned our party and struck out alone, joining those who needed the beat, letting the music take control, demanding total devotion from one's every sinew.

This music is what dancing's about. Your pop stuff is all well and good if you're after a snog, but its lack of commitment ensures it means nothing to the body. You're always more interested in those around you than the sounds and rhythms, conscious of where you fit into the squirming mass.

And while I could name the pap being played elsewhere in the club, I couldn't tell you a single track they played during our 40-minutes solid dancing, for it doesn't need a name. The music is beyond labels. It's just there to be felt. And that we did.

So this one's for Indy, my little star, dancing, whirling, beaming, shining brighter than anyone else in the place.


Is there something wrong with me?

I've just been called a "cheeky little shitbag" by one of my more senior colleagues, albeit in the friendliest and most affectionate manner imaginable.

I took it as a compliment. Indeed, you could say I was chuffed.

Should I worry about enjoying being insulted by women in this fashion?

Obscene answers on a postcard, please...


Five songs that should really never have been recorded
Come on Eileen - Dexy's Midnight Runners
You Get What You Give - The New Radicals
Sit Down - James
Young at Heart - The Bluebells
Damn it, there's another along these lines which has eluded me whenever I've been in the vicinity of a keyboard. There will be a prize for the first person to correctly identify the offending tune.

Why do I hate them? Because everyone loves them. And I don't get them. And they make me grind my teeth. Which makes everyone else wrong.

(The contents of this statement are facts and therefore non-negotiable)


Tales from the Newsroom
All I'd asked for was a good look at Condoleezza Rice's legs...

A couple of weeks ago, the radio on my alarm kicked in, as it so often does, at 4.54am. Through the haze I could hear an American woman extolling the US National Security Advisor's many virtues, including what she said were the best pair of legs she'd ever seen on a woman. Naturally my interest was aroused, and a sighting was mentally filed under "To do" (along with all the other seemingly pointless but profound ambitions, such as managing to walk through the double-ended lift on my way into work without having to wait for it to arrive).

Fast forward to today, and the Cowboy's ongoing tour of African nations, giving speeches to those who need a lot more help than he's prepared to give. With Ms Rice not being that much of a public figure, the opportunities to clock her legendary pins are few and far between. But with this being such a landmark statesmanlike tour, she's a major part of George's posse, front and centre. And I spot her sitting, waiting for the Leader of The Free World and Thabo Mbeki to give a joint news conference.

"Aha," says I, "now let's see if they're really that good."

My colleague asks what, I explain, and she replies: "Really? Funny how all Bush's black people suddenly appear when he's touring Africa."

Conversation moves on to Condie's dream job (NFL Commissioner, apparently) and I say maybe one day she'll get the gig after she's taken over from Baby Bush in calling the shots at the White House.

Colleague disagrees about ever seeing a President Rice. Why, I wonder? So she spills the beans on a rumour I'd not heard before...

Back in the days when Big Bush ran the world and the Little Rock Love Machine was gearing up to challenge him for the presidency, the Republicans thought they had the title sewn up because they knew Clinton's tryst with Gennifer Flowers and other such dalliances were the keys to a second term. You're a surefire winner if you're fighting a sinner.

Oh no you don't, said Bill's boys, cos we got dirt that says your guy's been getting a little extra-curricular briefing from a young White House adviser. What with Barbara getting on in years, Daddy Bush was allegedly dabbling in Black Magic with his Soviet affairs specialist, one Ms C Rice. Allegedly. (Although if the CIA is reading - hi guys! - my source had no evidence that I know of, and I wrote it off as hearsay, unable to be substantiated.)

And so with both sides knowing they were locked in suicidal stalemate, a clean campaign was fought, George Senior lost, and Condoleezza had to resume her academic career until the GOP got back to the TOP.

Now I won't say that I believe Condie slept her way to power - otherwise the same accusation would have to be levelled at most of Junior's team. He's just stuck with the folks his dad trusted. Ms Rice is undoubtedly a fiercely intelligent, indomitable person, who's worked her arse off to get where she is today. I respect her just about as much as it's possible to respect a black Republican (like Tories of colour, an eternal riddle) and I wouldn't want to belittle her achievements by throwing the cheapest shot in the book at her. My mum taught me to know better.

This salacious little rumour just helps put a little more flesh on the bones of one of the most powerful people in the world.

And then, a newsroom's really not a newsroom if it doesn't get its sex, and as today proved, it's amazing where a nice pair of legs can take you...


Sometimes a blog can just be used for sharing the things one likes. This is one of those times. The trailer for last year's movie Comedian was just inspired. Like so many other trailers, it features a voiceover from Hal Douglas, the gravelly-throated guy so well known to anyone who's visited a cinema in the last 30 years. But this one's different. This time Hal is very much the star.

You can watch it here (and it's a treat), but for those without the time or inclination to wait for it to download, I've copied a transcript provided by those lovely people at Empire Magazine.


The Miramax logo flashes up on screen. We hear shuffling sounds.

CUT TO INTERIOR CONTROL BOOTH: Two men, an engineer and a director, are in a recording booth. Through the window, we see an elderly gentleman cclamber onto a stool. He sits in front of a microphone and a lectern. He puts on his glasses, and slips on headphones.

CLOSE-UP: Feedback screeches through the monitor, sending dials into the red.

VOICEOVER MAN: Whoa... feedback.

A button is pressed. The red light flicks on. Recording begins. The engineer leans into the microphone.

ENGINEER: Okay, let's try this. This is the voiceover for Comedian Movie Trailer. Take one.

CLOSE-UP: Voiceover man, clearing his throat. There is a pause. Then he speaks with the voice that launched a thousand blockbusters.

VOICEOVER MAN: In a world where laughter was king...

The director presses a button, abruptly halting the recording.

DIRECTOR: Ah, no "in a world", Jack.

VOICEOVER MAN: What do you mean, no, "in a world"?

DIRECTOR: It's not that kind of movie.

VOICEOVER MAN: Oh? Okay. (pause) In a land that...

The director presses the intercom button immediately.

DIRECTOR: No "in a land" either.

VOICEOVER MAN: In a time...

DIRECTOR: Nah, I don't think so.

VOICEOVER MAN: In a land before time...

DIRECTOR: It's about a comedian Jack.


DIRECTOR: (exasperated) No.

VOICEOVER MAN: When your life is no longer your own...

DIRECTOR: Wh-what does that mean?

VOICEOVER MAN: When everything you know is wrong!

DIRECTOR: That's wrong.

VOICEOVER MAN: In an outpost...


VOICEOVER MAN: On the edge of space...

DIRECTOR: There's no space!



VOICEOVER MAN: Two girls...




VOICEOVER MAN: More than ever...

DIRECTOR: Stop it!

VOICEOVER MAN: A renegade cop!

DIRECTOR: (sighing) I hate you...

VOICEOVER MAN: A robot renegade cop!

CLOSE-UP: Voiceover man.

The director's voice comes through the intercom.

DIRECTOR: You're fired.

VOICEOVER MAN: You're fired!

DIRECTOR: No, you're actually fired.


He pauses and stares into the distance.

CUT TO: A black screen. The words: "Comedian: A film about comedy with Jerry Seinfeld" appear. As they do, the dialogue continues.

DIRECTOR: Get out of the booth, Jack.

VOICEOVER MAN: No. I like it in here!


I was never a big fan of Seinfeld. I found the slapped-bass musical stings that punctuated every scene deeply annoying, and could never get past them to the comedy. But this trailer is pure genius. If, at some point in my life. I can create something of its like, I'll know I'm on my way somewhere...


Top tips
Very briefly, if you want to get somewhere in London and don't know the way, don't, whatever you do, conssult the Transport for London website Journey Planner. Ask someone who lives in the city. Or look at a map. Best of all, look at a map with someone who lives in the city.

The TfL gadget may have a clever little mind, but for all AI's progress, it hasn't yet developed common sense.

Sure, it'll tell you the most mathematically pleasing way there, according to certain criteria, but you can sure as hell tell it doesn't have to make the journey itself. Otherwise, why would it suggest a myriad routes that actually take twice as long as the quickest and most obvious? Ninety minutes and three changes between tube and bus to do a journey that takes half an hour max by tube alone? I rest my case.

Computers won't be taking over the world just yet. But just in case they ask for directions, let 'em work it out for themselves.

p.s. Hope you Americans are feeling suitably independent. When you grow up, you might realise what you missed out on. :)


And then sometimes you have an encounter with a stranger that undoes all the damage of your previous one. Having just arrived at work this lunchtime, a girl I've never laid eyes on before gave me the sweetest little smile just before she got out of the lift on the sixth floor (home to the Beeb's execs and planning types). Made my day...