Archive for September, 2010

Evolution of a Media System. Chapter 3: The Telly

Posted on September 17th, 2010 in Technology | 1 Comment »

Two more cheerful chaps from Currys turned up with my lovely 42″ telly – took one look at my plasterboard walls and were about to slope off again, when at the last minute, one of them thought to look in the van for some of the special rawl plugs that this requires. Once found, the whole process of nailing the awesome beast to the wall took less than half an hour, and they departed with a generous tip.

I’ve moreoreless got the Harmony remote doing all the things I want it to, and both Blu-rays and Sky HD look fantastic on this giant screen. What’s amazing is how poor some SD content looks. Frasier on the Paramount Comedy channel looks worse than YouTube.

And I woke up yesterday to discover that the Sky box was actually taping what was meant to be my dummy recording. This was accompanied by a message informing me that my box’s software had been upgraded. A bit of tinkering later and I discovered that they’ve finally made Single Feed Mode work sensibly. Now if I’m watching BBC1 and a recording is due to start on BBC2, I will see a warning, and if I do nothing, it will flick over to BBC2 and make the recording correctly. This also seems to survive turning on “Anytime”. I believe that Single Feed Mode was introduced over a year ago. Good timing for me but appallingly slow for Sky’s other customers.

So, I’ve decided to postpone both the expensive SCR installation and the free, but unsightly, dish installation and just see how I rock with Single Feed for now. This completes the upgrade process. I hope you had as much fun as I did.


Where can I get a stash of good Blu-ray movies for under a tenner each?

Evolution of a Media System. Chapter 2: Sky+ HD

Posted on September 12th, 2010 in Technology | No Comments »

Yesterday was Sky+ day, and a cheerful engineer turned up at the time he said he would, fiddled with my satellite cable, bunged a box under my telly and mooched off. I played with it for a while, and then popped off to Currys to buy a Logitech Harmony 300i remote, satisfied that all seemed to be well. I was even able to take the digital sound from the Sky box and use my PC as an amp (albeit it stereo only, not Dolby 5.1). This means that I have to switch the Sky box off in order to shut off the sound when I want to use the media centre (which was actually one of the issues I was trying to avoid) but it does mean that one sound control works for everything which is convenient, especially if you’re trying to control everything with one remote.

The Logitech remote works very well for a £30 device. There’s a very convenient web/PC interface for programming it, which has loads of remotes already in its database, and you can drag-and-drop to move different commands to different buttons if it doesn’t get it right first time. You can’t program single buttons to perform sequences of actions, and there’s no feature for switching TV inputs automatically when you switch devices, but overall I’m happy.

What I’m less happy with is the profoundly weird behaviour of the Sky+ system and the near-total cluelessness of the telephone advisors.

If you pore over the Sky website, somewhere on there you will find a warning that you require two connections from your dish to your box for Sky+ to work properly. Fine if your dish is on your roof, balcony or in your back garden. But I’m in a block of flats with a communal dish, and my personal access to it is through a faceplate in the living room, which only has a single connector.

However, the latest generation of Sky + software has been updated to deal with this very issue. An engineer can set the box to “single feed mode” which means that you won’t be able to watch one channel while recording another, but also means that the Sky box won’t try and do this either. Although I think Sky could do more – considerably more – to flag this up to potential subscribers, I was aware of it and I wasn’t bothered. After all, I’m used to having only one tuner and I’m used to not being able to watch one channel while recording another. No big deal. Right? Wrong.

You see, the Sky + box really does take quite some convincing that it only has one tuner available. Deep in the core of its essential being, it is built around the fact that it will have two input feeds to choose from and its behaviour, even on single feed mode, is nothing short of bizarre.

With two feeds, if you are watching one channel while recording another, and at that moment, a second recording is triggered, you will – quite sensibly – be offered a choice: do you want to keep watching what you’re watching and cancel one of these recordings, or shall I start recording the new programme? If you do nothing, the box – perfectly correctly – assumes that it is unattended and prioritises the recording. My old Media Centre solution, with its noisy images and Heath Robinson IR blaster, unable to tune into more than one channel at once, would likewise warn me that it was going to change the channel to effect a recording if I was watching another channel when a recording was due.

But the new box, if I’m watching BBC 1 and a recording is due on BBC 2, simply IGNORES the recording and stays tuned to BBC1!! This is madness. Some Sky advisors advised that setting the box to standby cured this insane behaviour, but I couldn’t get this to work. There is a work-around, which I’m trying at the moment, but before I get to that here are some other possible options.

  1. There is a second satellite feed in the bedroom, but getting that connection to my digibox means trailing a wire out the bedroom window and back in again, or drilling holes in the walls. Neither is ideal.
  2. I could (if I could get permission from the landlord) stick a dish on the balcony and do things my own way, but we’d still have to drill (a small) hole in the wall and we’d have a fucking dish on the balcony. Sky would do this for free however.
  3. The technology exists to take two inputs from the dish, pump them down a single wire at different frequencies, and then separate them back out again at the digibox end. These boxes are called a “stacker” and a “destacker” and cost about £100, but they’d have to be fitted directly to the dish which means involving the landlord and/or the managing agents. Sky might or might not do this for free. Who knows? EDITED TO ADD: The terms “stacker” and “destacker” seem to refer to older technology which was very dependent on the quality of the wiring. The proper solution is called a Single Cable Router or SCR. My building managers can fit this for me for around £250, or if I buy the box for £100, Sky may be able to fit it for free. Chapter 4 will reveal the outcome.

Here’s the work around.

Before Sky implemented this single feed setting, tech savvy Sky users sharing communal dishes and only able to access one feed would set up “dummy recordings” which would fail but which would tie up the “second” feed. This would force the box to use the first feed for the new recording, the one you wanted, instead of using that feed for watching live TV. A version of this can still be used with the new software. Here’s how, courtesy of forum member utterepicicity on

Step 1: Ensure feed is on input 1.

Step 2: Turn Single feed mode ON.

Step 3: Turn Anytime back ON.

Step 4: Ensure you are tuned into a channel (eg BBC1) and it’s on the mini-tv

Step 5: Set a manual recording on a channel you never watch starting in 2 minutes time (so if its 9:00PM, set it to start at 9:02PM), have it finish at 04:00AM in the morning (assuming you never watch anything at that time of the morning). This ensures that Input 2 is tied up til 4am.

Step 6: Set up another manual recording on the same channel from 04:02AM until 04:00AM. Set the frequency to daily. This will tie up input 2 all day every day.

Step 7: Set up another manual recording on a channel you never watch from 03:58AM to 04:04AM. Set the frequency to daily. This ensures that the dummy recording never takes up Input 1.

Ensure you turn your box to Standby whenever you’re not watching it. It doesn’t matter if you forget now and then but try and get into the habit of it.

The whole thread is here. So far this seems to be working, but it’s not ideal. Tomorrow I’ll try running a satellite cable out the window.

UPDATED TO ADD: Couldn’t face running a satellite cable out of the window and with two windows needing to be permanently open, albeit just a crack, it’s going to be a lousy, lousy solution come the winter. This evening, the Sky box was displaying only “no satellite signal” when I got in from work. I turned off  “Anytime” and it sprang back into life, so maybe my box prefers Anytime to be off. Later tonight, it got in a paddy trying to record Dragon’s Den and I had to do a planner rebuild to get it to record anything at all. Finally, with the “dummy recording” in place, I watched it obediently flick over from BBC HD to Channel 4+1 when Him and Her ended and Jamie Oliver Tells Rural Americans They’re All Too Fat To Live was about to begin. Success! But the real solution is clearly the SCR. Since another tenant is also having this done, we may be able to effect a saving by doing two at once. By which I mean it might be £200 instead of £250. Jesus. 13/9/10.

Evolution of a Media System. Chapter 1: Blu-ray

Posted on September 10th, 2010 in Technology | No Comments »

Sound card and Blu-ray drive arrived today and I whipped off the back of the Media Centre PC and quickly installed both. Windows 7 recognised the sound card straight away but had it outputting two channel stereo until I downloaded and installed a Windows 7 Creative driver, whereupon it all worked beautifully.

The supplied Cyberlink PowerDVD software for playing Blu-rays baulked at my having mapped the Windows video folder to my network attached storage device, but this was worked-around by using a new Windows user with administrative powers but no mapped folders which I created for the purpose. Media Centre recognised old-fashioned DVDs placed in the new drive with no problem at all, but trying to play new-fangled Blu-rays rudely dumped me out of the Media Centre environment and into the Cyberlink software. This to be fair was what I expected, but I hadn’t expected that the Cyberlink software would then insist on downloading an update which took the best part of an hour to laboriously suck down at the feeble rate of 35Kb/s. God knows what was happening with Cyberlink’s servers.

When this was finally done, and installed, and after just a touch more screwing around, the system sprang into life and the Blu-ray copy of Inglourious Basterds which I mistakenly put on my Amazon wish list and got given for Christmas was happily playing, and looking very sharp and clear even on my 26” TV. Win! The copy of Speed which I picked up on Blu-ray also looked and sounded great with lots of atmospheric sound effects during the elevator sequence reverberating around the room as all six of my little speakers worked their socks off to provide me with sonic enjoyment.

Next question – will upgrading to Cyberlink PowerDVD v10 provide better integration with Media Centre? This meant downloading the trial version (which probably meant overwriting the free version 8 I’d finally got working, but anyway…) and again this meant making use of my new user account. 15 minutes later… Big win! Integration with Windows 7 Media Centre is pretty much seamless. This is going to cost me another fifty quid but it’s going to be worth it. *opens wallet*. At least there’s 20% off at the moment because of Labor Day or something.

Tomorrow it’s Sky+HD day, when we shall face the interesting challenge of how to connect up a digibox which favours HDMI to a TV with no HDMI sockets, and only one DVI socket which is already in use. I fear we shall be falling back on to SCART. How 1997! Then we shall also see if sound from the said digibox can be made to travel into the SPDIF in on my new sound card and then out to my 5.1 speakers, thus effectively using the PC as an amp when watching TV and harmonising (hah!) all of my audio needs.

Evolution of a Media System. Chapter 0: I wouldn’t start from here

Posted on September 9th, 2010 in Technology | 1 Comment »

For about five years now, my audio visual entertainment has revolved around Windows Media Centre. This week, I’m doing a major upgrade to pretty much everything, and what’s a blog for if not to document this kind of thing in fairly tedious detail?

The process has already been slightly screwed up however. The impetus to improve my broadcast TV and DVD picture quality was motivated by the decision to get a new TV set, and this, which we got for £399 in the bank holiday sale, was due to be delivered by Currys yesterday. Currys being Currys it seems they simply forgot. It’s now not coming until next Wednesday. Meanwhile more components are arriving in the next few days, none of which are going to live up to the hype on the old TV. Anyway.

So, before all of these new bits-and-pieces get installed, I thought I’d write about what I’ve got at the moment and where I’m starting from. But before I do any of that, let me just review what I’m trying to achieve.

So, here’s what I want to happen at this end of my living room.

  • Watching broadcast TV
  • Recording broadcast TV and watching those recordings
  • Watching DVDs
  • Watching downloaded movies and TV shows (all legal, of course)
  • Access to my music collection and photos

Now, a cheap PC hooked up to a flat screen TV and running Windows Media Centre software (which is free with Windows 7 Home Premium or better) means I can do all of these things very easily, and has two other advantages to boot. One is that I can hook up a very cheap-and-cheerful set of PC speakers to said computer and get 5.1 surround sound for a fraction of the usual cost and without having to screw around with complicated AV receivers. The other is I can do everything with one remote control, because everything goes through the Media Centre software.

So, here’s my setup. I have a computer which I’ve build myself out of various bits-and-pieces and which gets upgraded as needed. About three months ago, it got a new motherboard and processor because like a clumsy idiot I managed to bust the old (very old) processor while trying to change the fan for a quieter model. Last week, it got a new graphics card because the on-board graphics were struggling with HD content.

This gets a wired connection to my router, which in turn gets a wired connection to a 1Tb Network Attached Storage Device – a big hard drive which holds all my (perfectly legal) downloaded movies and TV shows, my music, my pictures and so on. A good-old-fashioned VGA cable goes into the DVI connection on the back of my 26” TV and bingo, I can check off the bottom two items on my list. Sound, as mentioned, is provided by these PC speakers and since there’s a DVD drive in the PC, and the Media Centre Software handles DVDs just fine, that’s the third element too.

Here’s where it gets a little complicated.

From my point of view, if you want to watch broadcast TV in the United Kingdom, you really want Sky. Virgin and BT’s offerings have improved in recent years but Sky is still the daddy. If you want to watch the Oscars live, for example, Sky is the only game in town.

Now, if I were content with digital terrestrial TV, my system would work great. I would put a TV tuner into my PC (an internal card or a USB dongle, either works) and this would receive the digital signals through the air, and feed them into my computer for display on the TV. And since the signal is being received digitally into the PC, the Windows Media Centre software can record shows for me, having downloaded a suitable EPG (Electronic Programme Guide), not to mention pausing and rewinding live TV and all those other things that seemed like magic when we first read about Tivo in the United States.

Sky doesn’t make it quite so simple.

Even though Sky broadcasts have been digital for years, the problem is that Sky regards the decryption of its broadcasts as very much its own concern. The little card you shove in the front of your Sky box authorises it to decrypt only the channels you’ve paid for and how it does this is Sky’s business and nobody else’s. So, the only way1 to insert Sky TV broadcasts into the Windows Media Centre environment is as follows. Sky box receives pristine digital signal from dish and decodes it. Sky box outputs audio and video signal via old-fashioned analogue SCART lead. This gets converted to composite video and stereo audio (three RCA or “phono” plugs) and is then fed into the analogue TV tuner in the PC. This takes the analogue signal and redigitises it so that Media Centre can work with it.

The picture doesn’t look quite as bad as you’re maybe imagining. But HD it ain’t.

Changing channels on the Sky box is fun too. Remember, the Sky remote plays no part in this set up. One simple remote control is a big feature of my audio-visual life and using the Sky remote would be hopeless for timed recordings. What’s the Media Centre PC going to do? Pick up the Sky remote and change the channel to BBC1 two minutes before Doctor Who starts? Well, almost.

What actually happens is that when a channel-change is required (either by me pressing a button or because a timed recording is nearing), the Media Centre machine has to send a duplicate of the required infra-red pulses down a wire, to a little “button” which I’ve stuck to the IR receiver of the Sky box. Of course, there’s no feedback from the Sky box to the computer after one of these events, so if – as occasionally happens – the Sky box fails to correctly interpret one of the pulses, the Media Centre computer has no way of knowing and so just records whatever is coming down the SCART lead.

Clearly this is less than perfect. But, you may be saying, Tom, you complete fucking idiot,2 you may be saying, don’t you realise that Sky has their own solution to recording live TV!? It’s called Sky+. Yes, I’m well aware of this. But you know what Sky+ would mean don’t you? Two remotes. Probably three remotes since I’d also need to switch the TV between the Sky+ box (live and recorded TV shows) and the Media Centre PC (everything else). So I’ve strongly resisted the urge to go the Sky+ route for some time.

But while I can get away with this double-conversion of TV pictures on a 26” TV, they aren’t going to cut it on the new 42” beauty, and furthermore, I am increasingly discomfited at not being able to receive the HD broadcasts trumpeted on every station. Then there’s Blu-ray…

So here’s the plan…

  1. Have new TV delivered and nailed to the wall.
  2. Add Blu-ray DVD drive to PC and hope that I can find the necessary software to make it all work properly – Microsoft have been slow to provide proper support for Blu-ray, Xboxes excepted.
  3. While I’m about it, upgrade the onboard audio which has never worked properly on this new motherboard.
  4. Have Sky+ HD installed and regrettably bypass the Media Centre for watching and recording broadcast TV.

This will leave two problems unsolved. One is audio. I want to avoid having to blow £200 or more on a “proper” home theatre audio system, giving me yet another box and yet another remote control to worry about. But if I simply run separate HDMI cables from the Sky box and the PC to the television, I’ll get stereo sound out of the TV speakers when I’m watching TV, but 5.1 sound out of the Media Centre when watching (legally) downloaded movies or DVDs. It would be better to have 5.1 sound for everything.

The second problem is the profusion of remotes. I’ll probably need three – TV, Sky and Media Centre. It may be that the Sky remote can be used to control the TV, or it may be that a universal remote will be required, in which case I think I favour something like this which is fairly inexpensive, can be configured through the computer (nice) and doesn’t need its own docking station to stay powered up.

As mentioned however, Currys sudden attack of amnesia regarding my order means that things are not going to work out exactly like that, so here’s the new revised plan.

  1. Upgrade Media Centre with Blu-ray and decent audio. Listlessly watch Blu-ray discs on old telly’s 1280×768 display.
  2. Have Sky+ HD installed and try to figure out how to connect it to a TV with no HDMI socket.
  3. After Sky engineer has gone, have new TV installed and nailed to the wall and have to connect up Sky box myself.

All of this, and no doubt more will be lovingly documented right here, starting tomorrow with the PC upgrade. See you then.

  1. All right, it’s not the only way, but it’s the only way I regard as being practical.
  2. That’s a bit much, isn’t it?

“The Comic Strip Presents…” episode guide part four

Posted on September 4th, 2010 in Culture | No Comments »

Part three is here


NOTE: The last full series to date

7.1 Detectives On The Edge Of A Nervous Breakdown 22 Apr 1993, BBC2 Thu 9pm (35 mins)
Written by Keith Allen & Peter Richardson. Directed by Keith Allen & Peter Richardson
Featuring Allen, Richardson
Plus: Gary Beadle, Jim Broadbent, Jim Carter, Phil Cornwell, Sara Crowe, Jimmy Fagg, Richard Vernon
When the Gourmet Detective is killed in a seventies-style slaying, nineties detective Spanker must work with not only mid-seventies Bullshitters Bonehead and Foyle, but also Shouting George from the Weeney and early seventies dandy Jason Bentley of Department Z.
A sort of winking, leering, Life on Mars from the early nineties, the parody of long-forgotten Jimmy Nail vehicle Spender is piss-weak, and Cornwell is as poor as ever, but the presence of Jim Broadbent, brilliantly taking-off John Thaw, elevates the antics of Bonehead and Foyle and the extra targets for satire adds much-needed variety, compared to the original Bullshitters outing. However, in his distracting second role, Richardson promises much but delivers very little as Jason King/Bentley. Oh for Nigel Planer or Rik Mayall in this part. It’s tempting, but probably over-generous to see the incongruous song-and-dance routines as spoofing Dennis Potter, but it’s more likely that Jimmy Nail’s pop career was what Allen and Richardson had in mind, assuming it was anything more than pure indulgence.

7.2 Space Virgins From Planet Sex 29 Apr 1993, BBC2 Thu 9pm (35 mins)
Written by Peter Richardson & Pete Richens. Directed by Keith Allen & Peter Richardson
Featuring: Allen, Coltrane, Edmondson, French, Richardson, Saunders
Plus: Gary Beadle, Phil Cornwell, Doon Mackichan, Miranda Richardson, Sara Stockbridge
When a gang of alien women come to Earth in search of sperm, it’s down to secret agent James Blonde to foil their plans.
Absolutely ghastly. Despite the welcome presence of more than two-or-three of the key performers for the first time in ages, this is possibly the Comic Strip nadir. Undergraduate James Bond spoof mixed with pre-adolescent misogynistic sci-fi sex fantasy with yet more of Allen and Richardson’s by-now tiresome obsession with nineties new-man-ism. Significantly less fun than either the Bond films or the Roger Corman schlock it’s spoofing and featuring some of the dodgiest Welsh accents you’ll ever hear. The impoverished production values and awful music don’t help either. Avoid.

7.3 Queen Of The Wild Frontier 6 May 1993, BBC2 Thu 9pm (35 mins)
Written by Peter Richardson & Pete Richens. Directed by Peter Richardson
Featuring: Richardson, Sayle
Plus: Julie T Wallace, Josie Lawrence, Jack Docherty, Gary Beadle, Lynsey Baxter
Two escaped criminals are given shelter by a couple of farming sisters, starved of male company.
Julie T Wallace is pleasingly bonkers in the lead role, but Josie Lawrence finds nothing to do as her foil. It probably doesn’t help that the parts were almost certainly written with French and Saunders in mind. Jack Docherty fits in nicely in a part which might have gone to Edmondson or Allen ten years earlier, leaving Richardson and Sayle in bit-parts. Overall, this is solid, but rather unremarkable. The wild boys of British comedy are now reduced to telling only vaguely quirky bucolic love stories. Fine while it’s on, but hardly the point. Looks nice though.

7.4 Gregory – Diary Of A Nut Case 13 May 1993, BBC2 Thu 9pm (40 mins)
Written by Peter Richardson & Pete Richens. Directed by Peter Richardson
Featuring Allen, Edmondson, Planer, Richardson
Plus: Doon Mackichan, Hugh Quarshie, Sara Stockbridge, Simon McBurney, Phil Cornwell, Steve O’Donnell, Kate Robbins
Would-be serial killer Gregory Dawson documents his feeble exploits as a video diary. We also see clips from the movie which inspired him.
The Silence of the Lambs spoof is clumsy and obvious – and ironically, easily bettered by the French and Saunders take-off the same year (directed by Bob Spiers who helmed many of the early Comic Strip movies). The best joke is Keith Allen’s heavy Welsh accent as the Lecter-alike Genghis, but even this is spoiled by another pointless song-and-dance routine. The video diary segments are far better, with an excellent central performance from Edmondson – who shot to fame as violently anarchistic punk Vyvyan and yet is so often at his most effective in Comic Strip films as anxious losers. The social satire is, again, fairly toothless, but the actual “Diary of a Nutcase” story is very effective.
NOTE: This would be the last Richardson/Richens script until the 1998 revival.

7.5 Demonella 20 May 1993, BBC2 Thu 9pm (30 mins)
Written by Paul Bartel & Barry Dennen. Directed by Paul Bartel
Featuring: Allen, Coltrane, Edmondson, Planer, Richardson, Saunders
Plus: Miriam Margolyes, Sue Holland, Miranda Richardson, Paul Bartel
A struggling music producer is offered a guaranteed hit record by a slinky Satan, and all she wants in return is his mother’s recipe for chicken soup.
This, the only Comic Strip film not written or directed by any of the core team, sees Paul Bartel from the turkey turkey in the director’s chair. As film-maker he has no sense of time, place or pacing and as writer he and co-author Barry Dennen seem determined to lower the dramatic stakes at every turn, but they have no good jokes to put in the place of dramatic tension, nothing original to say and nothing new to add to the already vastly overfamiliar Faust story.

7.6 Jealousy 27 May 1993, BBC2 Thu 9pm (30 mins)
Written by Robbie Coltrane & Morag Fullarton. Directed by Robbie Coltrane
Featuring: Allen, Coltrane, Planer, Richardson, Saunders
Plus: Peter Capaldi, Steven O’Donnell, Miranda Richardson, Kathy Burke, Gary Beadle
A jealous husband will go to any lengths to discover what his wife is really up to.
Another neophyte writing and directing effort and many of the same flaws as Demonella. A laboriously clichéd plot which can’t find a focus, rarely approaches any sense of credibility or normality and which functions largely by contrivance and coincidence. Even the usually excellent Peter Capaldi is reduced to furious mugging at the end. A soggy end to a maddeningly uneven but often brilliant run.

NOTE: In 1998, the team reunited for a one-off special. This was followed by two more over the next seven years.

S.1 Four Men In A Car 12 Apr 1998, C4 Sun 9.30pm (30 mins)
Written by Peter Richardson and Pete Richens. Directed by Peter Richardson
Featuring: Edmondson, French, Mayall, Planer, Richardson, Saunders
Four obnoxious salesman make a complete hash of a trip to Swindon for a conference.
A bracing return to form after a five year break. The plot is simple and clear, the characters are great and the jokes keep coming, although Richardson and Richens appeared to have borrowed a little of Bottom’s appetite for bodily fluids and horrific injury. Richardson himself, in a disastrous wig, is given the least to do, but Mayall, Edmondson and Planer seize their parts with tremendous vigour. French and Saunders seem stuck in at the end rather at random, and they only just get away with the “magic fairy” ending, but this is better by far than anything since Red Nose of Courage.

S.2 Four Men In A Plane 4 Jan 2000, C4 Tue 9pm (35 mins)
Written by Peter Richardson and Pete Richens. Directed by Peter Richardson
Featuring: Edmondson, Mayall, Planer, Richardson
Plus: Sean Hughes
The same four odious salesman fly to Africa and then charter a plane for a feasibility conference.
A slight stumble after the excellence of the previous film, but many of the same strengths are present – a simple plot, strong characters (although Richardson has entirely revised his and is in an even worse wig), and an arresting situation. Architects of their own destruction, if you can bear the company of these horrible men, you will enjoy watching them suffer. It’s a complete boys’ game though, female characters exist only to be slavered over by the men. Remember when the Comic Strip was standing up against sexist comedians?

S.3 Sex, Actually 2005, 28 Dec 2005, C4 9pm (45 mins)
Written by Peter Richardson and Pete Richens. Directed by Peter Richardson
Featuring: Mayall, Planer, Richardson
Plus: Robert Bathurst, Phil Cornwell, Rebecca Front, Tamer Hassan, Doon Mackichan, Sheridan Smith, Steve O’Donnell
In a typical suburban house, a meet-the-new-neighbours party threatens to reveal dark secrets.
Boring and confusing entry in the series. A quite unnecessary addition and with a completely nonsensical final reel. Mayall is in good form and Robert Bathurst is also a nice edition, but little things like story, jokes and motivation seem to have eluded Richardson this time around.