Have I Got News For You – Horizon – tape 1477

Some good episodes of Have I Got News For You on this tape. The first one is significant because one of the guests is Caroline Quentin, who at the time was married to Paul Merton. They make the smart choice to put them on opposite sides, and there’s definitely tension there, whether manufactured or not. There’s also a running gag about Quentin sleeping with Angus Deayton. “It’s in the contract.”

The other guest, who doesn’t get as much of a look-in, is Daily Mail showbiz correspondent Baz Bamigboye.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 7th May 1993 – 22:00

The next episode features Meera Syal

and Amanda Platell

There’s a certain amount of tension, this time between Paul and Ian. Ian is surprised that Paul writes for Family Circle magazine. “Are we calling Family Circle ‘the press’?” asks Ian. Also another reference to Angus sleeping with Paul’s wife.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 14th May 1993 – 22:00

The next episode features guests Mark Thomas.

And David Steel

Oddly for the show, Steel is introduced first, despite being on Paul’s team. This might be because Mark Thomas’s introduction includes a quote from David Steel about Thomas being “a disgusting individual”

And they’re still milking the Angus/Caroline Quentin joke.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 21st May 1993 – 22:00

The next episode features guests Alan Coren, who was listed in Radio Times as guest for the previous episode.

and John Simpson.

Some humour is taken from John Simpson’s experience of taking hallucinogenic drugs when he was in a jungle.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 28th May 1993 – 22:00

The next episode, the last in the series, is one of the most famous episodes. It features guest Tony Slattery (sound the klaxon). We haven’t seen Mr Slattery in anything for a while, but I’ve noticed rather a lot of references in other programmes about him being in everything, so he’s still felt omnipresent.

Paul’s guest was supposed to be Roy Hattersley, but he had pulled out for the third time, so this time he was replaced by a tub of lard.

Interestingly, the Radio Time lists Sandi Toksvig as the other guest, which might explain their inability to book two replacement guests.

There’s more continuity with previous programmes with Paul’s shirt. He’d joked in an earlier episode that Ian advertises Cooper’s Creosote.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 4th June 1993 – 22:00

After this, recording switches and there’s an episode of Horizon. It’s The Electronic Frontier. It’s an interesting look at the state of the computer industry at a point where computer communication was just becoming crucial, but before the internet, and more specifically the World Wide Web, really takes hold.

Columnist and writer Robert X Cringely provides some context throughout the programme, although this definitely isn’t another Triumph of the Nerds.

By this time, Bill Gates and Microsoft were pre-eminent.

We also get to meet some other Microsofties, like Mark McPhee, who does graphics, and talks about the meaning of the phrase ‘pixel necked geek’,

Therese Stowell explains the concept of ‘bandwidth’ at Microsoft – the amount of input one particular person can process. “Bill Gates has the highest amount of bandwidth of anbody I’ve ever met” she says, which was something a lot of people said at the time. I looked her up, and she worked on the Windows NT team, writing the command line environment singlehandedly.

The programme has to explain the concept of email, because it’s so new. There’s a screenshot of someone’s email inbox. One of the emails has the title “BBC TV Filming tomorrow”

Here’s Don Norman opening a door. And explaining the UI of a good door.

Joy Mountford of Apple explains the ideas behind User Interface design. Joy was the head of Apple’s Human Interface Group from 1986 to 1994. She’s also British.

The programme talks about the use of icons, and how it means “updating the screen every time something moves. Up to 50 times a second. That’s only possible because of powerful new chips.” This is a little misleading, since the Macintosh had been doing this stuff since 1984, but never mind.

Michael Tchao talks about devices the user can take with them. This was a time largely before even laptops, remember. Sadly for Apple, the Newton wasn’t quite the device everyone wanted.

Marc Porat talks about General Magic, the company founded by Apple legends Andy Hertzfeld and Bill Atkinson.

Another General Magic bod, James White, talks about Intelligent Agents, which were the new hotness at this time.

Also excited about Intelligent Agents is John Evans, of News International, very excited about collecting lots of information about your personal preferences in your agent. “Of course we would not run this as an altruistic business” he says.

Wow, this programme really loves General Magic. Now they’re talking about virtual pets.

At last we meet the person who has been excitedly demonstrating all this General Magic stuff, it’s the aforementioned Andy Hertzfeld.

“The person that I’m trying to please, that I have in my head when I’m writing this software is usually, like, a teenage boy” says Hertzfeld.

Another early writer about computer communications was Howard Rheingold.

We meet Steve Roberts, describing himself as a Yuppie Hobo, riding a recumbent bike with a computer built into it, typing as he rides using a chording keyboard built into the handle. It’s a miracle he didn’t die crushed under the wheels of a truck.

There’s a look at the early usenet.

Then it’s back to Microsoft, where Bill Gates gives us a demonstration of Encarta.

Nathan Myhrvold demonstrates a concept for interactive TV.

Denise Caruso sounds a warning about how digital media can be easily manipulated.

There’s a look at the Coke adverts where Paula Abdul dances with Gene Kelly.

Robert Greenberg shows how easy it is to manipulate digital footage. I’m not sure I;ve ever seen him on a programme like this before. He’s the kind of name that pops up in credits a lot.

Here’s the whole episode.

BBC Genome: BBC Two – 7th June 1993 – 20:00

After this, recording switches to Channel 4 and there’s part of a programme about the Irish band The Saw Doctors.

This is the same programme I have on an earlier tape.

After this, the tape ends.

In the ad breaks, there’s a trailer for the US remake of The Vanishing. Astonishingly, it contains a shot of the film’s central reveal. It’s almost as bad as the US trailer for Goldeneye which revealed the identity of the villain. The film was rubbish anyway, but even so.

Adverts:

  • Ford
  • Special K
  • Wash & Go
  • The Vanishing in cinemas
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken
  • Always
  • AA Autoquote
  • Citroen Xantia
  • Kia Ora – Too Orangey for Crows
  • Bodyform
  • Shock Waves
  • Pantene
  • AA Autoquote
  • Citroen Xantia
  • trail: Magic or Medicine
  • Citroen Xantia
  • Ariel Color
  • Kit Kat – Thunderbirds
  • Flash
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2 comments

  1. I’m always intrigued by your tech-type shows because you’re clearly informed and interested, whereas it would be all be so much gobbledegook to me, and I would never have cared at the time.

    Didn’t Freddie Blassie originate “pencil necked geeks”? This might be covered in the prog, I dunno.

    One of the silliest film reveals was when Se7en was shown a few years ago, sponsored by a company whose ads gave away film twists, such as the one in Se7en, shown about halfway through the film.

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