June 30, 2008
June 29, 2008
Archaeological drama series. The excavation of medieval soldiers from the Crusades leads to the hunt for the True Cross. Brilliant archaeologist Dr Gillian Magwilde and her team race to uncover the truth, as a fanatical right-wing Christian reawakens a force of violent modern-day crusaders.
Also, on Thursday, July 10th Criminal Justice begins on BBC HD for those who aren't planning to watch it on BBC1 this week - it's to be shown weekly on BBC HD, rather than the five consecutive night scheduling it's having this week.
And if that wasn't enough, how about both volumes of Tarantino's Kill Bill? Showing on Friday July 4th and Volume 2 on the 11th.
June 28, 2008
12:10pm Football Focus
12:45pm Wimbledon 2008
9:00pm That Mitchell and Webb Look
9:30pm Glastonbury 2008
10:30pm That Mitchell and Webb Look
11:00pm Hotel Babylon
12:00-2am Glastonbury 2008
June 26, 2008
- InsideVirgin is an informative blog put together by Virgin1, covering all of VirginMedia's services (notably broadband services)
- HDTV is a site that looks at all aspects of the HD world, including new equipment and services
- Trusted Reviews is equipment reviews for the regular guy: not as gadget-focussed as some and not afraid to denounce hardware that doesn't deliver what it promises.
June 25, 2008
More new HD content from HBO: two episodes of the highly acclaimed Angels in America have appeared, albeit episodes 2 and 3. Let's hope they hang around for a little longer than When the Levees Broke (available for just a couple of days).
I recall this being shown in two three-hour parts originally on Channel 4, but HBO has subsequently broadcast six hour-long episodes (far more palatable to be truthful - it's heavy stuff).
The interstella cast includes Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson, Jeffrey Wright, Justin Kirk, Ben Shenkman, Patrick Wilson and Mary-Louise Parker.
For those wanting to watch it all there are five of the six episodes available in SD, but only showing "20 days left". As always when embarking on these HD series via TV Choice On Demand, there's an element of risk as Virgin Media have a track record of putting up content in the most chaotic manner.
June 24, 2008
Virgin Media have the first six episodes of The Sopranos available On Demand in "High Definition". I know that from the second season the show was filmed in HD (see story here) but was unaware the first was available in HD. Dates from 1997
Also the pilot of ER is listed as HD. I watched this last night and I don't think this is high definition either. Cracking bit of TV, but it dates from 1994 and unless it was shot on film I suspect it's been upscaled. According to Wikipedia:
ER is unique in that the series was filmed in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen from the start, even though it did not air in widescreen until the seventh season when it began appearing in the 1080i HD format where NBC was being broadcast digitally.Anyone know more?
[see comments below for an update : ER is SD, but The Sopranos is high definition...and looks great!]
June 23, 2008
In it she talks of the challenges of doubling HD output in a relatively short space of time, gives more details on some of the summer programming such as Criminal Justice (which will be showing in HD from July 10th due to Wimbledon coverage) and talks openly about the Eurovision sound problems. Great stuff, and top marks to the Beeb for being so open on this.
June 22, 2008
More details of the drama and its cast can be found here.
June 21, 2008
Dear Mr Berkett
I am writing to you to make you aware of the strength of feeling in Virgin Media’s customer base regarding the lack of high definition services on your cable TV platform.
For the last eight months I have produced a website promoting Virgin’s high definition services. During this time the site (www.vmhd.blogspot.com) has had almost 50,000 visitors. To me, that’s a good indication that there’s a lot of interest in the availability of HD programming on cable TV in the UK.
Unfortunately, Virgin Media’s HD services do not satisfy that enthusiasm or level of interest from your customers. One part-time channel and a diminishing selection of On Demand programming (that appears in a chaotic, incomplete fashion) is extremely poor value for your premium customers. Filmflex HD movies come at a considerable additional cost.
To capture the opinions of this frustrated community I set up an online petition (http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/VirginTVHD) calling for signatories to support a demand of Virgin Media that you increase and improve your high definition TV services. Even I did not expect such a sizable, rapid and vocal response. Please find attached the signatories collected in a single week of the petition – 615 in total.
I appreciate that Virgin Media believes that its broadband and On Demand services are its USP. I understand that infrastructure and technologies are undergoing significant upgrades at considerable cost. But surely you cannot ignore your highest paying TV customers who at the very least should have high definition services on a par with those already promised by Freesat and Freeview.
Like so many others, I have selected Virgin Media over Sky and BT for my TV, broadband and telephony services. Like other VIP customers I’m paying over £1,000 a year for services – that’s a premium rate for what should be a premium service. The current TV provision is very clearly not seen by your customers as of a premium standard, particularly with regards to the availability of high definition programmes which are so clearly the future of quality TV services. Unless something is done soon by the Virgin management I fear that there will be a migration to Sky by your highest paying customers that will dwarf the impact of the loss of the Sky basics in 2007.
I await with interest your response to the signatories on this petition.
Kind regards, etc etc
At launch and around Christmas it looked like VM customers were really missing out as there were some pretty good films on show on C4HD. Then as we headed into the new year and the US imports started their annual runs there was quite of a bit of HD scattered around the schedules, albeit none homegrown.
Now it has all but dried up. I see that Hollyoaks is now HD...but that's about it. Most US series are now debuting on E4 or More4 (neither HD services) so there's even less high def than there was a few months ago. Even the films are down to one or two minor titles a week, normally in the wee hours.
So, something of a damp squib. Maybe the Channel 4 HD capability would be better used going 'a la carte' like BBC HD, showing a selection for the 4 stable of C4, E4, More4 and Film4? It seems a waste as it currently broadcasts, and I feel we're not missing much on VM without it.
June 19, 2008
Considering the BBC has been promoting Glastonbury 2008 as one of its high definition highlights for the summer, there are surprisingly few hours being broadcast in HD next weekend. Maybe, like many festival goers themselves, the BBC has had second thoughts about the mediocre line-up? Anway, those who are happy seeing the rain n mud in standard def will find blanket coverage on BBC3, whilst those watching on BBC HD get just
- Friday, 27 June 11:00pm - 2:00am
- Saturday 28 June 9:30pm - 10:30pm
- Sunday 29 June 11:45pm - 2:00am
June 16, 2008
It'll be running from 1pm each day next week. On Monday and Tuesday it will run through to midnight; on Wednesday until 7.30pm (followed by a Euro 2008 semi); on Thursday until 9pm (penultimate episode of Heroes following - no BBC3 early preview of the season finale though) and Friday's coverage ends at 11pm (when the Glastonbury live broadcast takes over) . Saturday it runs to 9pm.
One would imagine BBC HD has plenty of repeats up its sleeve to fill the schedules if rain stops play ...
June 15, 2008
I've created an online petition calling for Virgin Media to increase their high definition services (both channels and on demand programming). The petition will be sent to Neil Berkett's office at the end of the summer, so please spare a few seconds and sign up at
June 12, 2008
June 11, 2008
The BBC have three matches next week showing in High Definition. These are:
Monday 16 June 7:30pm - 10:00pm
Austria v Germany
Tuesday 17 June 7:30pm - 10:00pm
France v Italy
Live coverage of the second quarter-final (tba)
Picture and sound quality this week have been outstanding; here's hoping they continue to keep up the high standard for the rest of the tournament.
June 10, 2008
June 08, 2008
This Thursday's simulcasts of Heroes on BBC HD are disrupted by the Euro 2008 coverage. Just the one this week, and I said in an earlier post it would be the BBC2 simulcast.
Wrong. Bad Nialli. It's actually the BBC3 episode (episode 9) that's showing on BBC HD at 10pm Thursday. The following week we're back to both the BBC2 and BBC3 showings, with the final episode of the season (just 11 thanks to the Hollywood writers' strike) to follow.
I've enjoyed this season, despite the poor reviews Stateside. I think they gave me low expectations, whereas it's been very similar to the first season - lots of promise but only limited delivery. Hiro's adventure in Japanese history was no duller than his and Ando's US adventure last season, but at least it looked spectacular in HD! Things have definitely picked up in recent weeks and I'm hoping for a strong finish. Fingers crossed.
June 06, 2008
Lots of changes with TV Choice on Demand HD. As warned, Band of Brothers has gone, as have other series. At the moment, little new of note except the HBO series When the Levees Broke. Highly recommended; Spike Lee's very personal films on New Orleans after the hurricane.
There are a few Cartoon Network series appearing in the same section: they're not HD. Also, Sopranos season five fans will rejoice at the arrival on a ninth episode, but despair that it's not ep. 9 - we have episode 12!
June 04, 2008
I think it very much depends on what you're watching. If something has been shot in HD, the PQ on the SD channels is notably stronger. I have watched the BBC's excellent Wild China on both BBC2 and BBC HD; the latter is stunning, but, unless you literally watch them back to back, the BBC2 version is pretty spectacular too. Ditto with Heroes and Mad Men. But if I compare PQ on Channel 4 programmes shot with SD cameras (pretty much everything home grown) and there's more of a difference. In terms of PQ, I think you can use this as a rule of thumb, from lowest to highest:
Filmed in SD, broadcast in SD via SCART - average
Filmed in SD, broadcast in SD via HDMI - good
Filmed in HD, broadcast in SD via HDMI - very good
Filmed in HD, broadcast in HD via HDMI - excellent
So what I'm saying is that the comparisons you're making with the V+ box are between "very good" and "excellent". I don't disagree with what you're saying btw - my wife cannot tell the difference (32" Tosh Regza viewed from 8ft, 720p) and if I'm recording something for her, I save on disc space by recording the SD version...
June 02, 2008
Those watching Band of Brothers are advised to wrap it up quickly: it's now showing just 2 days left for all episodes...except 6, which in my region is showing as 1036 days left!
And now that it's finished on SkyOnc, if season four of Lost appears in On Demand in the near future don't you miss it...an absolute cracking return to form...I promise you won't be disappointed.
June 01, 2008
Saturday June 7 4.30pm
Switzerland v Czech Republic
Sunday June 8
Austria v Croatia (4.40pm)
Germany v Poland (7.30pm)
Monday June 9
Romania v France (4.45pm)
Tuesday June 10
Spain v Russia (should have been England! 4.45pm)
Wednesday June 11
Switzerland v Turkey (7.30pm)
Thursday June 12
Austria v Poland (7.30pm - No Heroes BBC2 simulcast tonight - the BBC3 one is at 10pm)
Friday June 13
France v Holland (7.30pm - should be the best of the early games, on paper at least)