January 06, 2004
How digital radio and digital TV has temporarily turned my clock back

My life just now is going through an odd phase. It will not last because it is absurd, but while it lasts it is strange, and I at least will enjoy reading about it in, I don't know, five years time, when the problem I am now mired in has been solved, and I've forgotten about it. (Never forget that my number one reader here is me. That explains a lot.)

But back to this odd phase. I'm talking about the fact that before I went digital, I could record TV programmes, and radio programmes, semi-satisfactorily, but now I can't. Now I'm sure that there are simple procedures for solving these problems, but the trouble is that just for now it they are too complicated. I'm sure that if I could get a routine going, I could record radio programmes on my hard disc and then play them back through the speakers attached to my computer. I'm pretty sure that I can't record digital TV now, until I get a "TiVo", or whatever those things are called. Recording digital TV on videotape is worse than analogue TV on videotape, because the sound is utter crap.

Please spare me the helpful advice about all this. There are more important things going on in my life right now than being able to record every digital signal that enters my kitchen. When everyone else is kitted out with the relevant stuff I'll get it too, and that will be that.

But meanwhile, my life has reverted to the pre-video-recorder age. My weekly clock is now governed by the Radio Times and its contents. I find myself inventing non-existent alternative dinner engagements, so that I can watch certain movies or listen to certain classical concerts, or watch a cherished re-run of Ab Fab.

Take last night. Basically, the job in hand was to write this about how Michael Jennings wants a job. I had promised it for Monday, and did actually finish it in the early hours of today. But alas, BBC TV 4, on channel 10, was simultaneously broadcasting, live from the new-olde Globe Theatre, London, the Mark Rylance Richard II. Which was fantastic.

Basically, I have nothing much more to say about this production than that. It was fantastic. It was outstanding. Rylance's characterisation of Richard was the most convincing I've ever seen. Bolingbroke was very fine. The John of Gaunt speech was very fine. Blah blah blah. Fine fine fine. Anyway, I had to watch it. It was last night or never (although actually of course they'll rerun it several more times and it will be available soon on DVD).

And in among it, I did the piece about Michael wanting a job. So, with digital TV, I write a bad article and Michael has to settle for a dead-end job. No digital TV, the article is brilliant, Michael becomes a billionaire uber-geek and lavish sponsor of Brian's Culture Blog which proceeds to take over the world. Such is history. Anyway, as I say, it's an odd time in my life.

And then this morning I had to get up at the crack of … well never mind, to listen to a promising Dvorak chamber music recording on Radio 3. Radio 3 is now a near continuous delight. Thank god it isn't all as good as some of it is, or I'd never do anything except listen to it.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 02:36 PM
Category: RadioTVTechnologyTheatre