Monday, April 03, 2006


This is a dark and troubling day at number 11.

We have undergone a bereavement. I may have to seek counselling.

It appears that the Sky Plus box is not working. To get it to work again will probably require a full system re-set. This means we will lose all the programmes that have been recorded (and we've recorded quite a few which we haven't watched over the past few days, wouldn't you know).

Of course, I keyed "sky plus box faults" into Google, and came up with some info from this nice bloke who indicates that Sky is "allegedly" profiting by sending out engineers for a £65 callout charge when the problem can be fixed from your remote control by instructions carried out over the phone. Well I never! Fortunately we have a warranty covering any problems, but some people whose 12 month free callout warranty runs out have found their Sky box suddenly starts to malfunction. Well I never!

The other thing that I read there is that, once a fault has occurred, even when the system has been re-set, problems are likely to happen again. Oh knickers.

This has coincided with BBC4's 1973 week, which was basically a showcase for the repeat of the "acclaimed" drama Life On Mars which we missed the first time round. So although we recorded the first part it has been wiped, and we've lost another opportunity to find out if it's worth all the fuss.

Oh well.

At least we saw The Rock 'n' Roll Years: 1973. The whole series should be repeated again because it provides some amusing incongruities (you know the sort of thing, Nikita Kruschev attempting to get out of an armchair while a bit of a Mothers Of Invention song is playing). There are also classic snippets of footage, such as film of an old woman ranting about the 1971 postal workers strike:

Old woman: "I think it's a disgrace, an absolute disgrace that they've not opened the Post Office so that us pensioners can't get our pensions. Do they realise how poor we are?"

Interviewer: "But madam, you're standing in the Post Office. They've opened the Post Office especially today so that you can get your pension money".

Old woman: "Oh dear".

The subtitles under one sequence informed us that "wildman rock star Jim Morrison died after falling into a steep decline". Blimey! I always thought he died in dubious circumstances in a bath in Paris! I didn't realise that he was driving through Snowdonia and fell down an embankment! Mind you, some of those hidden bends are deathtraps ...

My favourite bit of film, however, was of Ian Paisley singing the National Anthem with a load of mad women.

Come on, BBC4, repeat the whole series, and Life On Mars, just for us at number 11! There are only about 15 people who watch your channel anyway!

Otherwise, I hope that Rupert Murdoch passes several large kidney stones, the cad.

Life on Mars was brilliant. Best thing on telly for ages. Go out and buy a digi box for £25 from ASDA and watch the rest on BBC4. Wash your mouth out after saying the "M" word, Betty.
It's a god-awful small affair.
Richard - I suppose I'll watch the rest of Life On Mars and hopefully it'll make some kind of sense. Mind you, I've read a couple of reviews that suggest it isn't actually that good. We seem to be cursed with any '70's based dramas, because we tried to record The Rotters Club and the recording failed!

Geoff - the film was a saddening bore.
Good stuff, good rant, but I'm deeply envious - all we get here is Turdoch's Sky News with the truly appalling Kay Burley and when it goes wrong you can probably hear the cheering from No.11.
Well, maybe I'm easily pleased. The trouble with reviewers is that, well, they review it. Sounds stupid but maybe they ought just to switch the telly on and suspend belief for a bit like the rest of us. The whole world loved Red Dwarf - I thought it was the biggest load of bollocks ever to have been shown on telly. You can't please everyone. We were there in 73 and despite the problems with the lack of decent locations and the odd liberty taken here and there it was prime entertainment and we loved it. We got the jokes.
we had a lovely sky engineer round last night who did some jiggery-pokery on the qt (what is the qt??) to get sky working in the top bedroom even tho sky said it couldn't be done. hurray for sly, back-handing sky engineers. do you want his number?
Ours needed resetting and they did it 'over the phone'. They can dial in and clear it for you. They did however leave me on hold for 20 minutes.
and by clear it I mean clear the problem not the progs.
Interpretor Pavlov - only having Sky News seems particularly unlucky. Not that you're missing much as far as British television goes. It would probably be best for me to get rid of the tv set, in theory.

Richard - well we've sorted out the Sky Plus and managed to record Life On Mars so I'll have to reserve judgement until I see it. Had forgotten that the Yuri Norstein animations we recorded over Christmas had also been wiped. Damn and bugger it.

Surly - Sky engineers seem to be alright in the main. I still feel guilty about the one who installed the digital disc by himself on the hottest day of the year, climbing over the roof and stuff. It put him in a really bad mood.
Ranter - sorry about that, I seem to have crossed comments with you. They cleared ours over the phone too (and all the programmes we'd got on there, unfortunately). You can carry out the same procedure yourself by following the instructions on the web page I've linked to in the post. Also, the way to get through to Sky straight away on the phone is apparently to dial the "I want to cancel my subscription" option. They answer that one promptly enough, for some reason
My brother-in-law was a Sky "engineer" (he was an unqualified jobbing builder beforehand - the only qualification you need to be a Sky "engineer" is an ability to go up ladders) for a couple of years. He resigned I think after his supervisor reported him for taking his hardhat off in somebody's front room.
My experience of Sky Plus has been nothing short of misery. One of these days I suppose I'll have to subscribe to the service.
Richard - you can never be too careful in somebody's front room though. I mean, I'm wearing a hardhat even as I write this.

Simon - heh heh, such are the evils of free market capitalism. I hope you didn't buy your Sky Plus box from someone down the pub. Trust in Mr Murdoch instead.
Trust and Murdoch are two words that do not belong in the same language let alone the same sentence.
you should try making do with peasant vision Betty, like those at Chez Kyahgirl. Its very character building!
I don't think you're missing much with peasant vision, just 3 million gambling and quiz channels or 1980's sitcoms which were terrible in the first place. The Sky Plus bit is the good thing, although, it seems, not as reliable as I'd first thought.
bastard sodding sky plus FAILED to record 'grand designs'

bastard sodding rupert and his silly buggery media empire
Oh dear. I'm expecting ours to start playing up again. Last night we were trying to record an arty, complicated Spanish film on BBC4 but it didn't seem to be working. However, there was a signal failure on that channel so I was able to swear at the BBC instead of Rupert Murdoch this time.
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