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As many of you know, I don't have a TV. I haven't had one for about 4 years, and when I got rid of it, I wrote to the TV Licensing company and told them. They acknowledged my letter, sent me a refund for the balance of the license that I returned, and then that was that.

Other people have recounted different experiences of the situation. "Oh," said someone on [livejournal.com profile] rosamicula's friendslist. "They hound you after that. They knock on the door at all times and send you threatening letters through the post. They follow you home, steal your homework and give you a chinese burn just for suggesting that you don't have a television."

(I exaggerate. Not, it must be said, by much.)

All I could answer is that honestly, that's not been my experience. Not a dicky bird for 4 years. No being followed home. No chinese burns.

So it was with the tiniest soup├žon of apprehension that I opened the letter that was on the doorstep when I returned this evening.

It's a perfectly polite letter.

They start with "Have your circumstances changed? We visited you* some time ago and confirmed that you didn't need a TV license. We're now writing to you to ask if that is still the case."

There's no presumption of guilt. There's no "Mwa haa haa! We're going to get you, you lying toerag!"

Just a request to know if I still don't need a license. And if I do, here's the easy ways to get it sorted.

I don't know if this is a recent change at the TV Licensing Agency. I also don't particularly feel that it's unreasonable of them to ask every couple of years given the ubiquity of TV licenses in most households - I'm aware I'm an anomaly (25 million licenses issued, 97% of households have a TV, according to here.)

Just visit the website**, confirm that I am still sans TV; job done.

*This is not true. They never visit. They never call. They hardly ever write...

**Admittedly, the process for confirming that I don't have TV is somewhat complicated by the fact that they apparently should have sent me a 10 digit confirmation number when they checked that I didn't have a license before. As they apparently took my word for it 4 years ago, I don't have that number. And, helpfully, it's not the same 10 digit number as the 10 digit number that is on the letter that they sent.

It was on a Monday morning that the gasman came to call ...
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Come on ... we all know how this is going to end :-)

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So, last night, I went to see episode 14 of series 7 of QI being filmed.

A friend had tickets, so we went, turning up at the studio on the South Bank and queuing for the best part of 2 hours to guarantee getting in. But queue beers and good company soon made the time pass. Once in, and suitably warmed up by the in house comedian, the show began.

The panalists were Jo Brand, Alan Davies, Rob Brydon and Jimmy Carr, so we were pretty sure we were in for a good night, though I have to say, I was most impressed with Rob Brydon - he's got a gentle, almost perplexed air about him which fitted well with the show. I thought Carr was trying just a little bit too hard. But they were all good.

What surprised me most was the fact that the show was filmed in almost one take. There was a bit of chat, then the theme tune played and for the next two hours the panel just chatted to each other, with a vague gameshow going on at the same time. The only break was when the camera tapes needed changing, but I got the feeling if that hadn't been the case, they'd have just kept going.

Once it finished, Stephen Fry had to re-record two links - perhaps a minute's worth of film altogether, and then it was done.

Tickets were arranged through http://www.applausestore.com if anyone would like to sign up for tickets in the future.
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just how marvellous this programme was:


That's part 1 (of 6) of the 'Faking It' episode, where Sian Evans, a 22 year old cellist, successfully faked it as a Hard House DJ. You can watch the following parts from the YouTube website.

It's just lovely.
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With time to kill this evening, and a need to relax after the excesses and late nights of the last few weeks, I've been watching The Tomorrow People. I got given the complete set for my birthday and this is the first time I've been able to sit down and watch a story.

It's strange; the story was part of my childhood, but I didn't watch any programme regularly enough to tie deep into my psyche the way that (for example) Doctor Who does for so many of my friendslist. It's very stilted, in the way that so much TV in the 70s was - a different style of acting to that we have now, much more like the Children's Film Foundation stories that were on every Saturday. Very, very English.

The sets and special effects are nothing to write home about, but neither are they particularly different to Doctor Who or Blakes Seven, both from that era. The scripting is very worthy - one of the Children is black, one female (though interestingly, much like the Famous Five, she's the one forced by the patriarchal TIM to stay back at the base when the boys go into danger with no particular reason given as to why it should be her.)

Mostly, while I'm watching, the thing which gets me most is how innocent they are. They jaunte into places without thinking "If there's anyone watching from a window as we stroll across this wide open lawn we're in trouble" and how little (in the first story) they seem to have cottoned on to the tactical uses of their powers. But then this was 1979 - it's unlikely any of them were playing tactical games at that age and point in time.

And the final thought? Wasn't London grimy then? Tower Bridge is black, the streets are grey and washed out (I know some of that is an artifact of the film being used, but even so ...).

London has scrubbed up well over the last 30 years.
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Some of you may recall me posting a while ago about a lovely television programme called Young@Heart - a documentary about a choir of pensioners with an average age of 80, singing covers by the Clash, Radiohead and Coldplay.

I found out too late to warn people that it was on More4 last night. That's not really helpful anyway, because I know that at least one of the people who really wanted to see it doesn't have digital.

However, I've just gone to 4OD which is the Channel 4 watch again service, and there it is.

4OD is a bit of a pain, because it's Windows only, and you have to download specific software to watch the programmes (unlike the BBC's iPlayer, which you can access using Flash) but if you don't mind that, and you'd like to watch a beautiful and sentimental piece of TV, I highly recommend it.

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The Independent's "Watch It" blog just pointed to an excellent summary of the first three seasons which is available on YouTube:

It should go without saying, but clicking on the above link may expose you to spoilers.
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John Barrowman.

James Marsters.

What would happen if the two of them were ever in the same TV show?


I would strongly suggest that those prone to squealing do not watch the video on the above link at work.

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For those who might not have seen it, there's a new article up on the BBC website with some details of the new series of Dr. Who.
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Patrick Stewart in Extras, the Ricky Gervais comedy. I never actually saw this when it was on TV, and now wish I had - one for the Amazon wish list, I think:

"You're not married, you haven't got a girlfriend, you live alone and you don't watch Star Trek?


Good Lord."

has my boss looking at me in a very funny way.

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