Bruce Forsyth

English television presenter and entertainer Sir Bruce Joseph Forsyth-Johnson CBE sadly died 18 August 2017. Forsyth was born 22 February 1928 in, Edmonton, Middlesex.  His family owned a car repair garage in Victoria Road, Edmonton, and were members of the Salvation Army Playing brass instruments his mother also sang. His great-grandfather Joseph Forsyth Johnson  was a landscape architect who worked in Russia, Ireland, and the United States. His great-great-great-great-grandfather William Forsyth was a founder of the Royal Horticultural Society and the namesake of the plant genus Forsythia. Forsyth attended the Latymer School. After watching Fred Astaire in films at age eight, he trained in dance in Tottenham and then Brixton.  He started in show business aged 14, with a song, dance, and accordion act called “Boy Bruce, the Mighty Atom”. His first appearance was at the Theatre Royal in Bilston, with The Great Marzo at the top of the bill. Forsyth made his television debut in 1939 as a child, singing and dancing on BBC talent show Come and Be Televised, broadcast from Radiolympia, and introduced by Jasmine Bligh. Forsyth continued to perform through the Second World War, during which his brother John, a pilot in the Royal Air Force, was killed in 1943, during a training exercise, at Turnberry, Scotland.

After the war, he travelled the UK working seven days a week, doing summer seasons, pantomimes and circuses, where he became renowned for his strong-man act. His act was interrupted by call-up papers for National Service when he was drafted into the Royal Air Force. In 1958, an appearance with the comedian Dickie Henderson led to his being offered the job of compère of Val Parnell’s weekly TV variety show, Sunday Night at the London Palladium. He hosted the show for two years, followed by a year’s break, then returned for another year. During his spell of hosting Sunday Night at the London Palladium as part of the show he hosted the 15-minute game show “Beat the Clock”.

He appeared alongside Julie Andrews In the musical film Star! (1968), a biopic of stage actress Gertrude Lawrence, portraying Lawrence’s father. In January 1968 Pye Records issued the single “I’m Backing Britain”, supporting the campaign of the same name, written by Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent, and sung by Forsyth. Forsyth also topped the bill on the opening night of the Golden Garter nightclub, Wythenshawe. In 1970, he played Swinburne in the Disney fantasy film Bedknobs and Broomsticks and In 1976, he appeared on The Muppet Show, alongside Statler and Waldorf.

Forsyth’s next success was Bruce Forsyth and the Generation Game (BBC1, 1971–1977, 1990–1994) which proved popular and attracted huge Saturday evening audiences. It was on this show that Forsyth introduced his “The Thinker” pose, emulating Rodin’s sculpture, appearing in silhouette each week after the opening titles. This pose is reminiscent of the circus strong-man attitude. He also wrote and sang the theme for the show “Life is the Name of the Game.” He left the BBC in 1978 to present Bruce Forsyth’s Big Night, which was also transmitted on Saturday evening, but on rival broadcaster ITV. However, the show was not a success and lasted for just one series. He was replaced on The Generation Game by Larry Grayson.

Forsyth remained with ITV, hosting the game show Play Your Cards Right, which was the UK version of the US original Card Sharks (1980–87, 1994–99 and a brief period in 2002–03 before the show was axed mid-run due to low ratings). In 1986, he went to the United States to host a game show on ABC, Bruce Forsyth’s Hot Streak, which ran for 65 episodes from January to April that year. Shortly after, Forsyth was considered by Mark Goodson to be a candidate for hosting the revival of Card Sharks; ultimately the jobs went to Bob Eubanks (for the daytime version that aired on CBS), and Bill Rafferty (who hosted the nighttime syndicated version). Forsyth starred in the Thames Television sitcom Slinger’s Day in 1986 and 1987, a sequel to Tripper’s Day which had starred Leonard Rossiter, whom Forsyth replaced in the new show. His television appearances since the 1960s have included variety, comedy and light entertainment shows. He was the original host of You Bet! (1988 to 1990) before the show reached mainstream success under the stewardship of Matthew Kelly. Forsyth fronted the third version of The Price Is Right (1995 to 2001). Forsyth’s unsuccessful gameshows include Takeover Bid (1990 to 1991), Hollywood Or Bust (1984) and Didn’t They Do Well! (2004). During the 1970s Bruce featured in the “Stork Margarine” adverts on television and then during the 1980s and 1990s he appeared in advertising for the furniture retailer Courts, in which he dressed as a judge. Forsyth celebrated his 70th birthday in 1998 and appeared in a week-long run of his one-man show at the London Palladium, culminating in a 90-minute edition of Sunday Night at the London Palladium live on ITV. In 2000, Forsyth hosted a revived series called Tonight at the London Palladium.

In 2003, and again in 2010, Forsyth was a guest presenter on the news and satire quiz show Have I Got News for You. During the first of these appearances, he presented a parody of his Play Your Cards Right format entitled Play Your Iraqi Cards Right. He co-presented Strictly Come Dancing from 2004 to 2013. In 2010, Forsyth became one of the first three celebrities to be subjected to the British version of the American institution of a comedy roast, on Channel 4’s A Comedy Roast. Forsyth was the subject of the BBC genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are? and also appeared on the autobiography-interview programme Piers Morgan’s Life Stories. In 2011, Forsyth released a collection of songs on CD called These Are My Favourites. He chose the songs for their personal and musical importance, including a duet with his granddaughter, Sophie Purdie. These Are My Favourites also includes a recording of “Paper Moon” with Nat King Cole. In 2014 He stopped hosting Strictly Come Dancing to reduce his workload and for the preparation of pre-recorded specials.

Forsyth’s showbiz awards include Variety Club Show Business Personality of the Year in 1975; TV Times Male TV Personality of the Year, in 1975, 1976, 1977 and 1978; and BBC TV Personality of the Year in 1991.In 1987, the Great Bruce Forsyth Social Club was created. They would later go on to assist Forsyth in singing his opening number, “It’s Never Too Late”, at his Audience With show. He repaid this favour by adding the society to his busy schedule in June 1997 and appeared at their 10th AGM in Plymouth and also mentioned them in his autobiography. Forsyth was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1998 and Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2006 New Year Honours. On 27 February 2005, the BBC screened A BAFTA Tribute to Bruce Forsyth to mark the entertainer’s 60 years in show business.He had a bronze bust of himself unveiled at the London Palladium in May 2005. The sculpture was created by his son-in-law and is on display in the theatre’s Cinderella Bar.In 2007, Forsyth’s catchphrase, “Nice to see you, to see you, nice”, was voted the most popular UK catchphrase by the British public. In 2008, the BBC featured an 85-minute programme, celebrating his 80th birthday, entitled Happy Birthday Brucie! Forsyth was also made a Fellow of BAFTA. In 2009, he was awarded the Theatre Performer’s Award at the annual Carl Alan Awards. Hosted by the International Dance Teachers’ Association in recognition of his exceptional contribution to the world of dance and theatre. In 2009 Forsyth received a Royal Television Society Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2011 he received the National Television Awards special recognition award. Forsyth was made a Knight Bachelor in the 2011 Birthday Honours for services to entertainment and charity. In 2012, Forsyth was given the honour of carrying the Olympic flame through London, as it finally reached the city on the penultimate day of the London 2012 Torch Relay. In 2013 Forsyth earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the male TV entertainer having had the longest career. Forsyth also appeared at the 2013 Glastonbury Festival on the Avalon stage, becoming the oldest performer to ever play at the festival. . His most recent TV appearance was on the Strictly Children in Need Special in November 2015.

Sadly On 8 October 2015, Forsyth was rushed to hospital after falling at his home, tripping over a rug and hitting his head. He suffered cuts and a minor concussion but was otherwise unhurt. On 12 November he underwent surgery for an abdominal aortic aneurysm, but was expected to make a speedy recovery. As a result of his surgery, Forsyth had to pull out of his expected hosting of the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special. In 2016, it was reported that Forsyth was recovering after undergoing “life-saving surgery”. He paid tribute in a telephone interview on BBC News to his long-time friend Ronnie Corbett on the day of his death (31 March 2016), but was too frail to attend his funeral on 16 April. In 2017, Forsyth was rushed to hospital with a severe chest infection and spent five days in intensive care. He returned home on 3 March 2017.  In August 2017, his friend Jimmy Tarbuck said he was frail and unlikely to perform again. Sadly On 18 August 2017, Forsyth died at his home, aged 89. He is survived by his wife and children.

James Cameron

Canadian film director, film producer, deep-sea explorer, screenwriter, and editor James Cameron was born August 16, 1954.  His first film was called Xenogenesis (1978). . He then became a production assistant on a film called Rock and Roll High School, though uncredited in 1979. While continuing to educate himself in film-making techniques, Cameron started working as a miniature-model maker at Roger Corman Studios. Making rapidly-produced, low-budget productions taught Cameron to work efficiently and effectively. He soon found employment as an art director in the sci-fi movie Battle Beyond the Stars (1980). He did special effects work design and direction on John Carpenter’s Escape from New York (1981), acted as production designer on Galaxy of Terror (1981), and consulted on the design of Android (1982). Cameron was hired as the special effects director for the sequel to Piranha, entitled Piranha II: The Spawning in 1981. The original director, Miller Drake, left the project due to creative differences with producer Ovidio Assonitis, who then gave Cameron his first job as overall director. The interior scenes were filmed in Italy while the underwater sequences were shot at Grand Cayman Island. While Filming in Jamaica, they had numerous problems plus adverse weather. James Cameron was fired after failing to get a close up of Carole Davis in her opening scene. Ovidio ordered Cameron to do the close-up the next day before he started on that day’s shooting. Cameron spent the entire day sailing around the resort to reproduce the lighting but still failed to get the close-up. After he was fired, Ovidio invited Cameron to stay on location and assist in the shooting. Once in Rome, Ovidio took over the editing when Cameron was stricken with food poisoning.

 During his illness, he had a nightmare about an invincible robot hitman sent from the future to kill him, giving him the idea for The Terminator. After completing a screenplay for The Terminator, Cameron decided to sell it so that he could direct the movie. However, the production companies he contacted, while expressing interest in the project, were unwilling to let a largely inexperienced feature film director make the movie. Finally, Cameron found a company called Hemdale Pictures, which was willing to let him direct. Gale Anne Hurd, who had started her own production company, Pacific Western Productions, had previously worked with Cameron in Roger Corman’s company and agreed to buy Cameron’s screenplay for one dollar, on the condition that Cameron direct the film. Hurd was signed on as producer, and Cameron finally got his first break as director. Orion Pictures distributed the film. For the role of the Terminator, Cameron envisioned a man who was not exceptionally muscular, who could “blend into” a crowd. Lance Henriksen, who had starred in Piranha II: The Spawning, was considered for the title role, but when Arnold Schwarzenegger and Cameron first met over lunch to discuss Schwarzenegger playing the role of Kyle Reese, both came to the conclusion that the cyborgvillain would be the more compelling role for the Austrian bodybuilder; Henriksen got the smaller part of LAPD detective Hal Vukovich and the role of Kyle Reese went to Michael Biehn. In addition, Linda Hamilton first appeared in this film in her iconic role of Sarah Connor, and later married Cameron.The Terminator was a box office hit, breaking expectations by Orion Pictures executives that the film would be regarded as no more than a sci-fi film, and only last a week in theaters. It was a low-budget film which cost $6.5 million to make, cutting expenses in such ways as recording the audio track in mono. However, The Terminator eventually earned over $78 million worldwide.

He next began the film Aliens, the sequel to Alien, by Ridley Scott and cast Sigourney Weaver in the iconic role of Ellen Ripley. According to Cameron, the crew on Aliens was hostile to him, regarding him as a poor substitute for Ridley Scott. Cameron sought to show them The Terminator but the majority of the crew refused to watch it and remained skeptical of his direction throughout production. Despite this and other off-screen problems (such as clashing with an uncooperative camera man and having to replace one of the lead actors – Michael Biehn of Terminator took James Remar’s place as Corporal Hicks), Aliens became a box office success. It received Academy Award nominations for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Weaver, Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound, and won awards for Best Sound Effects Editing and Best Visual Effects. In addition, the film and its lead actress made the cover ofTIME magazine as a result of its numerous and extensive scenes of women in combat – these were almost without precedent and expressed the feminist theme of the film very strongly.

Three years after filming Aliens Cameron followed up withThe Abyss (1989) Inspred by an idea he had during a high school biology class. It concerns oil-rig workers who discover otherworldly underwater creatures and stars Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Michael Biehn.  it was considered to be one of the most expensive films of its time, and required cutting-edge effects technology. Because much of the film takes place underwater and the technology wasn’t advanced enough to digitally create an underwater environment, Cameron chose to shoot much of the movie “reel-for-real”, at depths of up to 40 feet (12 m). Following the success of The Terminator, there had always been talks about a sequel to continue the story of Sarah Connor and her struggle against machines from the future. Although Cameron had come up with a core idea for the sequel, and Schwarzenegger expressed interest in continuing the story, there were still problems regarding who had the rights to the story, as well as the logistics of the special effects needed to make the sequel. Finally, in late-1980s, Mario Kassar of Carolco Pictures secured the rights to the sequel, allowing Cameron to greenlight production of the film, now called Terminator 2: Judgment Day. For the film, Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger reprised their roles as Sarah Connor and The Terminator, but this time as a protector. Unlike Schwarzenegger’s character—the T-800 Terminator which is made of a metal endoskeleton—the new villain of the sequel, called the T-1000, is a more-advanced Terminator made of liquid metal, and with polymorphic abilities. The T-1000 would also be much less bulky than the T-800. For the role, Cameron cast Robert Patrick, a sharp contrast to Schwarzenegger. Cameron explained, “I wanted someone who was extremely fast and agile. If the T-800 is a human Panzer tank, then the T-1000 is a Porsche.”Cameron had originally wanted to incorporate this advanced-model Terminator into the first film, but the special effects at the time were not advanced enough. The ground-breaking effects used in The Abyss to digitally depict the water tentacle convinced Cameron that his liquid metal villain was now possible.

The movie, co-written by Cameron and his longtime friend, William Wisher, Jr., had to go from screenplay to finished film in one year. Like Cameron’s previous film, it was one of the most expensive films of its era, with a budget of about $100 million. The biggest challenge of the movie was the special effects used in creating the T-1000. Nevertheless, the film was finished on time, and released to theaters on July 3, 1991.Terminator 2, or T2, as it was abbreviated, broke box-office records (including the opening weekend record for an R-rated film), earning over $200 million in the United States and Canada, and over $300 million in other territories, and became the highest-grossing film of that year. It won four Academy Awards: Best Makeup, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing, and Best Visual Effects. It was also nominated for Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing, but lost both Awards to JFK.James Cameron announced a third Terminator film many times during the 1990s, but without coming out with any finished scripts. Kassar and Vajna purchased the rights to the Terminator franchise from a bankruptcy sale of Carolco’s assets. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was eventually made and released in July 2003 without Cameron’s involvement. Jonathan Mostow directed the film and Schwarzenegger returned as the Terminator.Cameron reunited with the main cast of Terminator 2 to film T2 3-D: Battle Across Time, an attraction at Universal Studios Florida, Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Japan. It was released in 1996 and was a mini-sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The show is in two parts: a prequel segment in which a spokesperson talks about Cyberdyne, and a main feature, in which the performers interact with a 3-D movie.

Before the release of T2, Schwarzenegger came to Cameron with the idea of remaking the French comedy La Totale! Titled True Lies, with filming beginning after T2’s release, the story revolves around a secret-agent spy who leads a double life as a married man, whose wife believes he is a computer salesman. Schwarzenegger was cast as Harry Tasker, a spy charged with stopping a plan by a terroristto use nuclear weapons against the United States. Jamie Lee Curtis and Eliza Dushku played the character’s family, and Tom Arnold the sidekick.Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment signed on with Twentieth Century Fox for production of True Lies. Made on a budget of $115 million and released in 1994, the film earned $146 million in North America, and $232 million abroad. The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects.

Cameron’s next film concerned the sinking of the RMS Titanic. The picture featured a fictional romance story between two young lovers from different social classes who meet on board. Before production began, he took dives to the bottom of the Atlantic and shot actual footage of the ship underwater, which he inserted into the final film. Much of the film’s dialogue was also written during these dives. Subsequently, Cameron cast Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher, Gloria Stuart, Bernard Hill, Jonathan Hyde, Victor Garber, Danny Nucci, David Warner, Suzy Amis, and Bill Paxton as the film’s principal cast. Cameron’s budget for the film reached about $200 million, making it the most expensive movie ever made at the time. Titanic went on to gross more than $1 billion worldwide and remained the highest-grossing film since 1998, until Cameron’s 2009 film Avatar surpassed it in 2010. The CG visuals surrounding the sinking and destruction of the ship were considered spectacular. It received 14 Oscar nominations (tied with All About Eve) at the 1998 Academy Awards. It won 11 Oscars (also tying the record for most Oscar wins with Ben-Hur and later The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King), including: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, Best Film Editing, Best Costume Design, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Original Dramatic Score, Best Original Song. Upon receiving the Best Director Oscar, Cameron exclaimed, “I’m king of the world!”, in reference to one of the main characters’ lines from the film. After receiving the Best Picture Oscar along withJon Landau, Cameron asked for a moment of silence for the 1500 men, women and children, who died when the ship sank. Titanic was re-released in 3D in April 2012, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the real ship.

Following Titanic Cameron began a project that took almost 10 years to make: his science-fiction epic Avatar (2009), This concerns a disabled ex-marine named Jake Sully who is stationed on the lush Planet Pandora and is asked to make contact with the planets indiginous Na’avi people by means of using an Artifically grown body known as an Avatar. Jake is asked to mediate between the locals and the human settlers concerning mining rights to a valuable mineral which can only be found on Pandora. After a while Jake begins to find the Na’avi way of life rather enjoyable and is horrified when the Military attack and decide to start using deadly force So he switches his allegiance and encourages the Na’avi to start fighting back. Following Avatar’s release Cameron was again nominated for Best Director and Film Editing again.

Between making Titanic and Avatar, Cameron spent several years creating many documentary films (specifically underwater documentaries) and co-developed the digital 3D Fusion Camera System. Described by a biographer as part-scientist and part-artist, Cameron has also contributed to underwater filming and remote vehicle technologies. On March 26, 2012, Cameron reached the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the ocean, in the Deep sea Challenger submersible. He is the first person to do this in a solo descent, and is only the third person to do so ever. Cameron Then moved to television and created Dark Angel, a superheroine-centered series influenced bycyberpunk, biopunk, contemporary superhero franchises, and third-wave feminism. Co-produced with Charles H. Eglee, Dark Angel starred Jessica Alba as Max Guevara, a genetically enhanced super-soldier created by a secretive organization. Cameron’s work was said to “bring empowered female warriors back to television screens by mixing the sober feminism of his The Terminator and Aliens characters with the sexed-up Girl Power of a Britney Spears concert.” sadly low ratings in the second led to its cancellation. Cameron himself directed the series finale, a two-hour episode wrapping up many of the series’ loose ends. He has been nominated for six Academy Awards overall and won three for Titanic. In total, Cameron’s directorial efforts have grossed approximately US$2 billion in North America and US$6 billion worldwide. Not adjusted for inflation, Cameron’s Titanic and Avatar are the two highest-grossing films of all time at $2.19 billion and $2.78 billion respectively. In March 2011 he was named Hollywood’s top earner by Vanity Fair, with estimated 2010 earnings of $257 million

Good Omens

Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman is being made into a six-part humorous fantasy drama, for Amazon and BBC Two. Equal parts humour and horror, fantasy and drama, the series is written by Neil Gaiman (American Gods), who will also serve as Executive Producer

It is based on the internationally best selling novel Good Omens by Terry Pratchett (Hogfather) and Neil Gaiman. The story stretches from the beginning of time to quite near the end of time. It stars Multi-award-winning actor Michael Sheen, OBE (Masters Of Sex, Passengers and the upcoming films Home Again and Brad’s Status) as the somewhat fussy angel and rare-book dealer Aziraphale”. It also stars David Tennant (Broadchurch, Doctor Who, Jessica Jones) as the fast living demon Crowley, both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle and of each other. However they find out that if Heaven and Hell have their way, the world will end on Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner. So The armies of Good and Evil amass, Atlantis rises, tempers flare. The Four Horsemen Of The Apocalypse make ready to ride and Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except that someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist…

Good Omens is being produced by the comedy team at BBC Studios including Chris Sussman, Head of Comedy at BBC Studios and Executive Producer plusthe BBC’s commercial production arm, Narrativia under Rob Wilkins, Executive Producer and Narrativia MD, and The Blank Corporation, in association with BBC Worldwide. It was commissioned for Amazon by Roy Price, Head of Amazon Studios and Prime Video content globally, and for BBC Two by Patrick Holland, Controller, BBC Two; Shane Allen, Controller, BBC Comedy Commissioning and BBC commissioning editor Gregor Sharp. Neil Gaiman, Writer and Executive Producer. It will be directed by acclaimed director Douglas Mackinnon, whose credits include Doctor Who, Outlander and the standalone Victorian episode of Sherlock: The Abominable Bride, winner of the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Television Movie last year.

E. Nesbit

English author and poet Edith Nesbit was born 15th August 1858. She wrote or collaborated on over 60 books of fiction for children, several of which have been adapted for film and television. She was also a political activist and co founoded the Fabian Society, a precursor to the modern Labour Party.Nesbit published approximately 40 books for children, including novels, collections of stories and picture books. Collaborating with others, she published almost as many more. Nesbit was “the first modern writer for children”and unlike authors such asLewis Carroll, George MacDonald and Kenneth Grahame, who turned away from tough truths, Nesbit dealt with things-as-they-are, previously the province of adult novels.” Nesbit is also credited with having invented the children’s adventure story. Noël Coward was a great admirer of hers and, in a letter to an early biographer Noel Streatfeild, wrote “she had an economy of phrase, and an unparalleled talent for evoking hot summer days in the English countryside.”

Among Nesbit’s best-known books are The Story of the Treasure Seekers (1898) and The Railway Children. This concerns a family who move to “Three Chimneys”, a house near the railway, after the father, who works at the Foreign office, is imprisoned after being falsely accused of spying. The children befriend an Old Gentleman who regularly takes the 9:15 train near their home; he is eventually able to help prove their father’s innocence, and the family is reunited. The family also take care of a Russian exile, Mr Szczepansky, who came to England looking for his family (later located) and Jim, the grandson of the Old Gentleman, who suffers a broken leg in a tunnel. The theme of an innocent man being falsely imprisoned for espionage and finally vindicated might have been influenced by the Dreyfus Affair, which was a prominent worldwide news item a few years before the book was written. And the Russian exile, persecuted by the Tsars for writing “a beautiful book about poor people and how to help them” and subsequently helped by the children, was most likely an amalgam of the real-life dissidents Sergius Stepniak and Peter Kropotkin who were both friends of the author.

The Railway Children was also adapted into 1970 British drama film based on the novel by E. Nesbit. The film was directed by Lionel Jeffries, and stars Dinah Sheridan, Jenny Agutter (who had earlier featured in the successful BBC’s 1968 dramatisation of the novel), Sally Thomsett and Bernard Cribbins in leading roles. The film was released to cinemas in the United Kingdom on 21 December 1970. The film rights were bought by Lionel Jeffries. It was his directorial debut, and he was also responsible for writing the screenplay for the film. The Railway Children turned out to be a critical success, both at the time of its release and in later years. It has gone on to gain a place in several surveys of the greatest films ever made, including surveys conducted by the British Film Institute and Total Film magazine. The Railway Children was later remade with Jenny Agutter playing the Mother of the three children.

Nesbitt also wrote The Wouldbegoods (1899), which recount stories about the Bastables, a middle class family that has fallen on relatively hard times. The Railway Children is also extremely well known. Her children’s writing also included numerous plays and collections of verse.She created an innovative body of work that combined realistic, contemporary children in real-world settings with magical objects – what would now be classed as contemporary fantasy – and adventures and sometimes travel to fantastic worlds. In doing so, she was a direct or indirect influence on many subsequent writers, including P. L. Travers (author of Mary Poppins), Edward Eager, Diana Wynne Jones and J. K. Rowling. C. S. Lewis wrote of her influence on his Narnia series and mentions the Bastable children in The Magician’s Nephew. Michael Moorcock would go on to write a series of steampunk novels with an adult Oswald Bastable (of The Treasure Seekers) as the lead character .Nesbit also wrote for adults, including eleven novels, short stories and four collections of horror stories. Nesbit sadly passed away on 4 May 1924, but has left a long lasting legacy in the form of some great novels and Poems.

The Wizard of Oz

The musical fantasy the Wizard of Oz was released On 15 August 1939. It was produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and based on the 1900 novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.The film stars Judy Garland; Terry the dog, billed as Toto; Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr, Frank Morgan, Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton, with Charley Grapewin and Clara Blandick, and the Singer Midgets as the Munchkins, with Pat Walshe as leader of the flying monkeys.

The Wizard of Oz tells the story of Dorothy Gale who finds herself swept up on an magical adventure after a tornado transports her house in Kansas to the land of Oz. Here she encounters the local Munchkins and the Good Fairy Glinda and asks them how to get home. They suggest asking the Wizard of Oz to help, so she must travel the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City where the Wizard of Oz lives. Along the way she encounters the Tin-man a Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion, who all agree to accompany her to the Emerald City.

However the evil Wicked Witch of the West is also after Dorothy because she inadvertantly killed the Witches’ sister when the house landed in Oz, so the Witch continually tries to stop Dorothy and the others reaching the Emerald City. Then the Witches’ Flying Monkey servants successfully manage to kidnap one of the group so they must mount a daring rescue attempt and defeat the Wicked Witch once and for all before Dorothy can return to Kansas.

Notable for its use of Technicolor, fantasy storytelling, musical score and unusual characters, over the years it has become one of the best known of all films and part of American popular culture. It also featured in cinema what may be for the time the most elaborate use of character make-ups and special effects. Despite this It was not a box office success on its initial release, earning only $3,017,000 on a $2,777,000 budget, despite receiving largely positive reviews Wizard of Oz did not recoup much of the studio’s investment until subsequent re-releases when it was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture but lost out to Gone with the Wind. It did however win in two other categories including Best Original Song for “Over the Rainbow.” The song was ranked first in two list: the AFI’s 100 Years…100 Songs and the Recording Industry Association of America’s “365 Songs of the Century”.

The 1956 Television broadcasts of the film re-introduced the film to the public and subsequent broadcasts have made it an annual tradition staple and one of the most known films in cinema history. The film was named the most viewed motion picture on television syndication in history by the Library of Congress who also included the film in its National Film Registry in its inaugural year in 1989. Designation on the registry calls for efforts to preserve it for being “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant”. It is often included in the Top 10 Best Movies of All Time by critics’ and public polls. It is the source of many quotes referenced in modern popular culture. It was directed primarily by Victor Fleming. Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf received credit for the screenplay, but there were uncredited contributions by others. The songs were by Edgar “Yip” Harburg (lyrics) and Harold Arlen (music). The incidental music, based largely on the songs, was composed by Herbert Stothart, with interspersed renderings from classical composers.

H. G. Wells

English science-fiction author, Herbert George “H. G.” Wells sadly passed away on 13 August 1946 in London, aged 79. Hewas born 21st September 1866 in Bromley, Kent. He is best known for his work in the science fiction genre but also wrote contemporary novels about, history, politics and social commentary, as well as textbooks and rules for war games. Together with Jules Verne and Hugo Gernsback, Wells has been referred to as “The Father of Science Fiction”. His most notable science fiction works include The War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, The Invisible Man and The Island of Doctor Moreau & his earliest specialised training was in biology, and his thinking on ethical matters took place in a specifically and fundamentally Darwinian context.

Wells became interested in literature after an accident in 1874 left Him with a broken leg. To pass the time he started reading books from the local library, brought to him by his father. He soon became devoted to the other worlds and lives to which books gave him access; they also stimulated his desire to write. In 1874 he entered Thomas Morley’s Commercial Academy, until 1880. From 1880 to 1883, Wells had an apprenticeship as a draper at the Southsea Drapery Emporium. This later inspired the novels The Wheels of Chance and Kipps, which portray the life of a draper’s apprentice as well as providing a critique of society’s distribution of wealth. In October 1879 Wells joined the National School at Wookey in Somerset as a pupil-teacher. After a short apprenticeship at a chemist in nearby Midhurst, and an even shorter stay as a boarder at Midhurst Grammar School, Who offered him the opportunity to become a pupil-teacher, where his proficiency in Latin and science enabled him to continue his self-education in earnest. In 1880 Wells won a scholarship to the Normal School of Science (later the Royal College of Science in South Kensington, now part of Imperial College London) in London,

Studying biology under Thomas Henry Huxley (Who was an English biologist known as “Darwin’s Bulldog” for his advocacy of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution) and also entered the Debating Society of the school. Whilst at the Imperial College he read The Republic by Plato, whose ideas interested him. He also turned to contemporary ideas of socialism as expressed by the recently formed Fabian Society and free lectures delivered at Kelmscott House, the home of William Morris. He also helped establish the Science School Journal, which allowed him to express his views on literature and society, as well as trying his hand at fiction: the first version of his novel The Time Machine was published in the journal under the title, The Chronic Argonauts. Wells also entered the College of Preceptors (College of Teachers). He later received his Licentiate and Fellowship FCP diplomas from the College. Wells earned a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology from the University of London External Programme, In 1889–90 he managed to find a post as a teacher at Henley House School where he taught A. A. Milne.

Wells’s first non-fiction bestseller was Anticipations of the Reaction of Mechanical and Scientific Progress Upon Human Life and Thought. Some of his early novels, invented a number of themes now classic in science fiction in such works as The Time Machine, The Island of Doctor Moreau, The Invisible Man, The War of the Worlds, When the Sleeper Wakes, and The First Men in the Moon, and wrote dozens of short stories and novellas, the best known of which is “The Country of the Blind” (1904) ands some of these also inspired Science Fiction Television- His short story “The New Accelerator” was also the inspiration for the Star Trek episode Wink of an Eye. Wells also wrote non fiction novels which received critical acclaim, including Kipps, Tono-Bungay, The Outline of History, A Short History of the World, The Science of Life and The Work, Wealth and Happiness of Mankind and wrote a number of Utopian novels including A Modern Utopia, which usually begin with the rushing to catastrophe, until a solution is found – such as abandoning war (In the Days of the Comet) or having a world council of scientists taking over, as in The Shape of Things to Come, which was later adapted for the 1936 Alexander Korda film, Things to Come. Wells also contemplated the ideas of nature versus nurture and questions humanity in books such as The Island of Doctor Moreau, where a person discovers an island of animals being vivisected unsuccessfully into human beings, and tries to escape,

In 1936, Wells called for the compilation of a constantly growing and changing World Encyclopaedia, to be reviewed by outstanding authorities and made accessible to every human being. In 1938, he published a collection of essays on the future organisation of knowledge and education, World Brain, including the essay, “The Idea of a Permanent World Encyclopaedia”. Seeking a more structured way to play war games, Wells also wrote Floor Games followed by Little Wars which is recognised today as the first recreational wargame and Wells is regarded by gamers and hobbyists as “the Father of Miniature War Gaming”.

He was also an outspoken socialist, often sympathising with pacifist views and becoming increasingly political and often wrote about the ills of Society leading him to be touted as a worthy successor to Charles Dickens, but Wells described a range of social strata and wrote abundantly about the “New Woman” and the Suffragettes. His most consistent political ideal was the World State, which he considered inevitable. He envisioned the state to be a planned society that would advance science, end nationalism, and allow people to progress by merit rather than birth, Wells also believed in the theory of eugenics and Some contemporary supporters even suggested connections between the degenerate man-creatures portrayed in The Time Machine and Wells’s eugenic beliefs. Wells also brought his interest in Art & Design and politics together which led to the foundation of the Design and Industries Association. In his last book Mind at the End of its Tether he considered the idea that humanity being replaced by another species might not be a bad idea. He also came to call the era “The Age of Frustration”.

During his final years he became particularly outspoken in his criticism of the Catholic Church, he was also a diabetic, and in 1934 co-founded what is now Diabetes UK, the leading charity for people living with diabetes in the UK. On 28 October 1940 Wells was interviewed by Orson Welles, who two years previously had performed an infamous radio adaptation of The War of the Worlds, on KTSA radio in San Antonio, Texas. In the interview, Wells admitted his surprise at the widespread panic that resulted from the broadcast, but acknowledged his debt to Welles for increasing sales of one of his “more obscure” titles. In his preface to the 1941 edition of The War in the Air, Wells had stated that his epitaph should be: “I told you so. You damned fools”. He was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium on 16 August 1946, his ashes scattered at sea. A commemorative blue plaque in his honour was installed at his home in Regent’s Park.

Alfred Hitchcock

Often “referred to as the “Master of Suspense”, the Prolific British film director and Producer, Alfred Hitchcock KBE,  was born 13 August 1899 in Leytonstone, London and during a career spanning more than half a century, He pioneered many elements of the suspense and psychological thriller genres. He had a successful career in British cinema with both silent films and early talkies and became renowned as England’s best director.

During his career Hitchcock directed more than fifty feature films, many of them psychological thrillers and became a highly visible public figure through interviews, movie trailers, cameo appearances in his own films, And he also hosted the television programme Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955–1965) and Created a recognisable directorial style. Hitchcock’s stylistic trademarks include the use of camera movement that mimics a person’s gaze, forcing viewers to engage in a form of voyeurism. In addition, he framed shots to maximise anxiety, fear, or empathy, and used innovative forms of film editing. His work often features fugitives on the run alongside “icy blonde” female characters.

Among his most famous films are Rebecca, North By Northwest, Notorious, The Birds, Psycho, Jamaica Inn, Rear Window, Rope, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Vertigo and Marnie. Hitchcock also developed many pioneering techniques in the suspense and psychological thriller genres during which he created a distinctive and recognisable directorial style. He pioneered the use of a camera made to move in a way that mimics a person’s gaze, forcing viewers to engage in a form of voyeurism. He framed shots to maximise anxiety, fear, or empathy, and used innovative film editing. His stories frequently feature fugitives on the run from the law alongside “icy blonde” female characters. Many of Hitchcock’s films have twist endings and thrilling plots featuring depictions of violence, murder, and crime, although many of the mysteries function as decoys meant only to serve thematic elements in the film and the extremely complex psychological examinations of the characters. Hitchcock’s films also borrow many themes from psychoanalysis and feature strong sexual undertones. Through his cameo appearances in his own films, interviews, film trailers, and the television program Alfred Hitchcock Presents, he became a cultural icon.

Alfred Hitchcock sadly passed away 29 April 1980. He has left a long lasting legacy in the form of some fantastic films including Rebecca, Notorious, Saboteur, Spellbound, Psycho, Rope, The Birds, North by Northwest, Marnie, Vertigo, Rear Window, The Man Who Knew Too Much and Frenzy. Hitchcock also received his knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II In the 1980 New Year Honours and He also came first in a 2007 poll of film critics in The Daily Telegraph, which said of him: “Unquestionably the greatest filmmaker to emerge from these islands, Hitchcock did more than any director to shape modern cinema, which would be utterly different without him. His flair was for narrative, cruelly withholding crucial information (from his characters and from us) and engaging the emotions of the audience like no one else.” The magazine MovieMaker also described him as the most influential filmmaker of all time, and he is widely regarded as one of cinema’s most significant artists. Many of his films still remain popular today and are often shown on television.