Inspector Morse – Horizon – tape 909

First on this tape, to Channel 4 for a repeat showing of Inspector Morse. It starts off in typically bucolic style on the canal, and has what amounts, for Morse, to an action sequence, as a narrowboat goes off course into some rushes, and a dead body is discovered.

But the body’s identity is a mystery, lacking as it does a head, forearms, and lower legs. But a college Master is a likely fit for the victim. And there’s a note in the pocket about an appearance in the docklands.

Morse is invited to meet an old acquaintance, Barry Foster, on other business, but it’s Barry Foster, so you know he’s in the likely frame for the murderer.

His first impressions aren’t good either. We first meet him as a young woman is striding out of his office, unhappy. Once she’s left, he turns to Morse, shrugs and says “Overeducated women.”

Barry Foster

He’s worried about a colleague, Dr Kerridge, who hasn’t returned from London as expected. But we know he’s not the victim, as we then see him in London. The woman we first met storming out of Foster’s office, Deborah Burns, is a doctoral student who has been turned down for a fellowship. She believed that Kerridge had voted against her, but he tells her it was actually Foster who voted against her.

Then Kerridge himself is battered to death in his Bayswater flat. Which is doubly confusing to the case, because the original victim was wearing one of Kerridge’s suits.

In the end, the main murderer turns out to be someone we only meet at the end, another academic, this one played by Michael Aldridge, who is dying, and has decided to settle old scores.

Michael Aldridge

Also featured is Amanda Hillwood as new pathologist Grayling Russell, with whom, naturally, Morse becomes slightly infatuated.

Amanda Hillwood

I like Inspector Morse. Its very lack of action and melodrama makes a nice change. If only Morse weren’t such a grumpy sexist.

After this, there’s an episode of Horizon, all about the scientific fiasco surrounding the announcement of ‘Cold Fusion’. You can tell the general tone of the programme in the narration, by Peter Jones, the voice of the book in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

The scientists, from the University of Utah, who announced the initial experiment were Martin Fleischmann

Martin Fleischman

And Stanley Pons

Stanley Pons

It’s an interesting account, as it talks to the scientists who tried to duplicate the experiment from studying the news reports and the film shot at Pons and Fleischmann’s lab, because, of course, they gave their press conference before they even had a paper to publish.

One scientist who tried to replicate the results was David Williams of the Harwell fusion research laboratory in the UK.

David Williams

There’s some shots of the art department of Nature magazine pasting up their layouts. No new-fangled desktop publishing here.

Pasting up Nature

John Maddox of Nature talks about trying to get a paper from Pons and Fleischmann, but the reviewers sent it back twice for clarification.

John Maddox

In the end it was published in another journal. “It was faxed around the world. Faxes of faxes were passed around to everyone who was interested until people were receiving illegible copies.”

There was an April Fool’s Day hoax by Radio 4, claiming that three schoolboys had replicated the experiment in the classroom.

Schoolboy hoax

Then shortly after this, some genuine researchers announced they had replicated it, including James Mahaffey of the Georgia Institute of Technology

James A Mahaffey

24 labs across the world had announced some sort of replication of the experiment. But Mahaffey discovered something that rather invalidated his results – the neutron counter they were using turned out to give erroneous readings just if you warned it up.

A fascinating look at a not particularly proud moment in science.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 26th March 1990 – 20:10

After this, recording switches to the Channel 4 Daily, the first Channel 4 breakfast show, and their showbiz news. There’s a report on the oscars. There’s also a report on a non-musical version of Roald Dahl’s Matilda, on stage.

The recording stops after about 20 minutes of this.

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