Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Cut-off but Viewable, If Only for the Intro...

Arena - A Pirate's Tale

The BBC Two's landmark documentary/biography series, with the landmark intro and music. This is a short excerpt from 1991's episode focusing on the plight and drama of "Radio Caroline". The intro is simple, a bottle with an illuminated "Arena" sign is floating on the water of an ocean? Lake? River? it's a somehow wonderful 20+ seconds of a priviledge to watch, always has been. The night sky and moon looks artificial, hence filmed in a studio, but that doesn't take away any of this quite eerie but soothing atmosphere in this misty setting, almost reflective. That stunning instrumental too. definetely now, as it's now nostalgic gold. For confirmation, it's a green bottle floating, with a neon sign inside it.

"Arena" has covered all kinds of subjects from painter Salvador Dali to Superman. It's a highly raved series that began in 1975, and still exists to this day. The intro is still intact, I can't name any other programme which has kept the exact same intro for 35 years. Over 500 episodes have been made over the years.

This episode focuses on Radio Caroline? What's so special about this radio channel/frequency? Well, it was an off-shore radio broadcast outside of British territory and into international waters, located off south-east England, from a Danish boat renamed from "M.V. Fredericia" to "Caroline" in 1964. Britain treated it like a pirate radio station, and was rendered illegal in 1966 by the British Government. Founded by Ronan O'Rahilly, it was a pop music station, it's reason being, for defiance against the grasp record labels had on on-shore radio stations. Not greatly dependable, it struggled on and off-air periods over the years, and switched between various ships. It's heyday was the 60 and 70s. By the 80s it began focusing on more Euro-Pop concentrated material. After much legal wranglings, it was forced off-air for most of the 1990's, but has come back in various forms around Europe in the 2000's, still being transmitted via the sea-faring lifestyle.

What we don't see on the Youtube clip is interviews with Ronan O'Rahilly, record producer Mickie Most, DJ's Simon Dee and Ian Ross.

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