Arthur and George – A criminal case

I’ll start with confession. I’m not a fan of Martin Clunes. Actually I don’t like anything he has been in. I disliked Men Behaving Badly. I can’t stand Doc Martin.

I was keen to see Arthur and George. I had read the book and thought the programme would be good. I was not so sure when I realised that Martin Cline’s was the leading character. However my opinion changed as soon as Arthur spoke. He was Doyle.

Visually this was really good. The cast is first class. So what’s wrong? The story has been sabotaged! Who is the criminal mastermind behind this assault? It’s the sound mixer. The music and other sounds drown out the speech. Shades of Jamaica Inn!

In this story, if you can’t hear the dialogue you completely lose the plot. What a waste! I hope I’m not the only one to complain about this.

I really hope somebody sorts this out before the next programme. Come on STV!

Airwars – A Frustrating TV Series

This programme broadcast on Discovery History on Friday 11th July told the story of the battle of the Atlantic. It used some remarkable film and photographs of ships and aircraft. This is one of the series of history programmes from Dr. John Sweetman, Editor Matt Hale, series Producer Audrey Healey, a Cromwell Productions film.


My problem with the series is the poor match between the commentary and the footage. In this film the commentary told of liberator bombers and showed flying boats; talked about Swordfish and showed Albacores. The text about escort carriers was accompanied by film of the USS Hornet and the Doolittle raid.



This is a Swordfish – Open cockpit

This is common in the series. We are told about Hurricanes and the film shows Spitfires. I’ve just spotted a Vietnam era carrier landing while the commentary is talking about escort carriers. Why do this? The only people who watch these films are old geeks like me who can easily spot the difference between a catapult Hurricane and an old American biplane



This is an Albacore – closed cockpit

Why do I watch these films if they frustrate me so much? Well, the research is good and the film clips are great. They should be a great resource for anybody who wants to find out more about history. The problem is in the editing. The clips should be properly indexed so that the film editor can match the right clip to the commentary.


As one of the old geeks I think these resources should be properly preserved and indexed so that some of these little known aircraft will not be forgotten and not shown incorrectly labelled.


A great opportunity missed by careless media indexing.

The Blockade Runner and the Independence Vote



I was recently watching this BBC Scotland program hosted by David Hayman. The episode I had recorded was ‘The Robert E Lee’. This episode centres on the Clyde built paddle steamer Giraffe which was sold to the Confederacy and renamed the Robert E Lee and became one of the fastest blockade runners of the war.



The Clydebuilt Blockade Runner

I found this particularly interesting because I had just completed a course on the American Civil War at Strathclyde University, delivered by Robert Lynch. In the course I had learned about the importance of cotton to the Confederate states. Cotton provided the link with Scotland and soon some of my fellow students unearthed links between Glasgow and the Confederacy. These included evidence of Jefferson Davis having visited Glasgow to stay with some industrialists and collaborators after his release from prison. This is expanded on in the programme which also shows evidence of a Confederate spy network working from Bridge of Allan.

This program highlighted the role of Glasgow’s Shipbuilders and the blockade runners. It filled in lots of interesting details of the activities of the blockade runners and the Scots who made fortunes from the war.

It gives us a fresh look at the role Scotland played in supporting the slave owning Confederacy and is particularly interesting at this time. Scotland is about to go to the polls to vote on independence. The Yes camp has made much of the UK’s imperial past and their desire to dissociate Scotland from it. Is this moral stance justified?

Taking this closer look at Scotland’s history of support for a slave system and the fortunes made in extending the slaughter of the Civil War should encourage us to examine the myth of our historical innocence.

I believe it is important for the future of Scotland to expose the truth about ourselves and our past. We are not a people who lived under the yoke of imperialism but we were instrumental in promoting it and made fortunes out of our fellow man.

When we walk into the polling booth this autumn let’s make our decision based on facts and not myth.