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  1. New film release with Vintage Hair Lounge : Gang Girls

    Added 24th May 2011 at 13.00 · No Comments

    We’ve been working closely with Vintage Hair Lounge, our sister company, over the past year and utilising our filmic skills to good effect. So it is with great pride that we can announce the release of their first short film production Gang Girls which draws on the strengths of all we’ve learnt at Archive TV about punchy “three minuters”!

    Shana Swash in Gang Girls

    The film aspires to create a unique twist to the classic mods and rockers history, by focussing on the central character, played by Shana Swash (Eliza Fenning in The Crime Wave) and her emerging identity in the early 1960s. There is a continual hint of her internal dilemma with embracing the new mod and sixties scooter scene, which is allowing her to create a powerful influential status whilst flanked with her younger girl gang followers, and yet feeling isolated from her rockabilly fifties roots that nurtured her through difficult teen years. The “rockers” in Gang Girls are not the classic violent stereotypes; they are the now older girl gang that Shana once looked up to. They haven’t come to fight in the traditional sense, they’ve come to fight for Shana’s heart and mind which has become so fragmented. For a three minute plot line and protagonist’s journey, the film is admirably assisted by the penetrating voice of Bournemouth based swing singer and Burlesque performer Miss Annie who recorded a new version of Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) for the soundtrack.

    Scooters in Gang Girls

    The film will be showing at film festivals later this year and we wish it all the very best of success. Meanwhile it can be viewed right here.

  2. Mr Briggs’ Hat : A Sensational Account of Britain’s First Railway Murder

    Added 24th May 2011 at 10.01 · No Comments

    A new book about the Franz Muller case in 1864 has been launched. Mr Briggs’ Hat : A Sensational Account of Britain’s First Railway Murder by Kate Colquhoun was recently reviewed by Andrew Martin of The Observer.

    Read his review here.

    I was quite surprised to see the title of the book for a start, which utterly conforms to the concept of Archive TV’s The Crime Wave which makes the rather obvious point that crime reporting has been, and remains, a “sensationalised” craft, no matter how complex the issues that act as a backdrop to understanding.

    So it seemed appropriate to repost my comments on Andrew’s review before writing a full book review from ourselves in a forthcoming post.

    “Delighted to see renewed interest in this fascinating mid-Victorian story about a clash of cultures between middle-class suburban commuter life and the aspirations of a robust new German immigrant population in then leafy Hackney. Disappointingly though, the young hard-working German tailor, Franz Muller has been condemned to the true crime history books once again as a passing “sensational” interest in what actually was a haunting premonition of the social complexities of modern inner city youth crime and the media hysteria which inevitably follows.
    In my own painstaking research of the Muller/Briggs case, I was more drawn to the complex political, social, cultural and industrial dynamics that fed in to a story that gave the development of police investigative techniques a massive boost in an era where crime detection demanded a great deal more sophistication for the dawning modern age.
    The records relating to the case at the local Hackney Archives as well as the National Archives at Kew and the Colindale Newspaper archives, present, eerily, as a “CrimeWatch” type appeal to the masses to hunt down potential suspected “foreigners”. They also heavily reflect the public’s collective shock at the shattering of their previous comforting beliefs of the safety of exciting new train travel, which is played out in the media at the time in a way reminiscent of any modern day high profile murder or, without wishing to cause undue offence, at times it echoes the kinds of fears expressed after the terrifying 7/7 tube and bus bombings.
    The Muller case was a watershed for Victorian society in so many ways, and like many subsequent high profile murders, it is more than quite possible and probable, that an innocent man went to the gallows in order to quell any demands for a more challenging critique of how the entire Briggs case was investigated and played out in the press thereafter. It is of note that Muller’s execution was one of the last public hangings in Britain.
    The international award winning short film The Crime Wave, featuring the case, stays true to the uncertainties of the real story, and provides a more relevant opportunity to answer questions that this dreadful case actually poses for us today.
    The Crime Wave, written by Sharon Holloway and directed by Stuart Everett can be seen at” (8 May 2011)

  3. The Champion Shaver, Sweeney Todd or Teddy Wick?

    Added 13th March 2010 at 16.55 · 2 Comments

    With an awesome new fantasy production out from Tim Burton, the delicious Alice in Wonderland, I am pleased to say that I’ve discovered there must have been some real cracking research done for his last film, Sweeney Todd. As Archive TV has been following the progress of Southampton’s newest hairdressing salon and barbers, Vintage Hair Lounge, who will soon be hosting Celebrity Barber Daniel Rouah for some intense traditional wet shaving education, I stumbled across a little gem in The Illustrated Police News, 22 October 1887.

    Teddy Wick, “a young, smart, under-sized man”, wowed his Kings Road Chelsea audience, by shaving a record 77 men’s faces in a jaw dropping 59 minutes and 53 seconds! Running three chairs at a time, and with the champion barber of Fulham, J Markey, by his side to lather his customers, Teddy made sure once again he kept his coveted title as Champion Shaver. Previous feats included shaving 40 men in 50 minutes and triumphing in a blindfold shaving competition. Maybe in Victorian times, the thought of an ambitious young barber wielding a cut throat razor in record time whilst unable to see his client’s necks, didn’t put off volunteers. For guys stepping forward to Vintage Hair Lounge’s upcoming shaving week, be rest assured that quality triumphs over speed!

    So Teddy’s victory in October 1887 didn’t stop there. He boldly put down a marker for a new challenge to his would be barber rivals.

    “To show I mean business, I will give the man or woman who can beat me my silver medal, won by me in the ‘Open to the World Competition’”

    The requirements stipulated :

    12 men’s haircuts, 20 shaves, with TWO hands

    6 shaves, BLINDFOLDED

    6 shaves with ONE hand tied behind their back

    Whether Teddy retained his Champion’s crown we don’t yet know, but he sure would have given Sweeney Todd a run for his money.

    Many will recall the scene in Sweeney Todd where he and arch rival Pirelli (played by Sacha Baron Cohen) square up to each other to see who can perform the fastest closest shave. It’s very likely that Teddy’s illustrated story lent an air of authenticity to the scene. Check out the pictures below.

     Sweeney Todd in action

    Sweeney Todd in action

    Teddy Wick in action

    Teddy Wick in action

  4. How the Mental Health Act echoes the bad old days of controlling “lunatics”

    Added 4th March 2010 at 17.25 · 2 Comments

    It has recently come to our attention that British law and culture still focuses on those with mental health problems as being “public protection” issues, with patients remaining the subject of fear and derision in a way those with physical ailments would be all too ready to complain about.

    We are well aware that many troops returning front the front line face enormous difficulties dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and that about a third of victims of sexual violence will also develop similar symptoms. One might expect that in the 21st century major advancements in medical care and treatment of those with PTSD would mean that care providers are in a position to offer specialist care and treatment for this terrifying and debilitating condition. Not so. It took a long time for war veterans with what was once known as “shell shock” to be acknowledged as deeply traumatised and need in support, treatment and understanding. Only someone who lives with the condition, or is close to someone grappling with it, knows of the poison it spreads whilst it remains untreated.

    When the Joint Committee on the Draft Mental Health Bill in 2004 explored the history of treatment for mental illnesses, some recurring themes emerged. They recorded,

    “Mental health legislation has at least three centuries of history behind it. Many of the issues which the current Government and this Joint Committee have had to address would be familiar to our predecessors since at least the beginning of the 19th century. At the heart of these is the question of how we as a society balance the care and the control of people suffering mental distress or disorder. It is an issue which raises fundamental questions about personal autonomy and liberty, the role of the state and the extent of its powers and responsibilities, public attitudes towards people who are mentally-ill, developments in medical and behavioural sciences, the clinical judgment of medical practitioners and other professionals and complex questions of medical science, ethics and belief.

    The history of legislation in the United Kingdom authorising detention of people with mental disorders reaches back to the Vagrancy Act 1744, which allowed unregulated confinement of the “furiously and dangerously mad”. Legislation in the 18th and early 19th centuries progressed from pure confinement to an emerging concern about the abuse of the mentally disordered in asylums. By the beginning of the 19th century people with mental illness were beginning to be seen as a separate group, whose needs were not met in workhouses or Houses of Correction. The County Asylums Act of 1808 provided for asylums to be built in “airy and healthy” locations, to which patients who were too “dangerous to be at large” were admitted. The emerging emphasis on the protection of “lunatics” against abuse led to a requirement in the 1828 Madhouses Act for all asylums and private hospitals to have a medical officer. Patients who recovered were to be discharged by the visiting justices. In 1845, the Lunatics Act marked another significant shift with the creation of a national system of inspection of standards in the form of the Lunacy Commission.”

    We know anecdotally, that being presented with the prospect of being “sectioned” holds a great deal of fear for those either with or without a condition in need of treatment, as it raises the spectre of being treated and detained like a criminal, and the loss of one’s autonomy and liberty simply for an (often treatable) illness. The recent national Mental Health Awareness Campaign, Time to Change  wouldn’t exist but for the need to keep raising awareness and challenging prejudices against those with mental illnesses.

    But whereas most of the powers under the Mental Health Act are strongly balanced in favour of using informal admission (i.e voluntary hospitalisation) for those in need of help and treatment, the police retain archaic powers to detain people in a police station for up to 72 hours on a spurious assessment of the targeted person’s condition. If you’ve never heard of section 136 Mental Health Act 1983, look it up, it might strike terror in to the hearts of any right thinking person with even the most generous view of the police’s understanding of mental health issues. Under section 136, a police officer can detain someone s/he believes appears to be suffering from mental illness in a public place and remove them to a place of safety. Despite many constabularies’ protocols and longstanding opinion that a police station ought no longer to be regarded as an appropriate place of safety for the mentally ill, the local nick is where a lot of people are routinely taken, often exacerbating their condition and criminalising their illness. There’s no better way to remind a distressed person of the state’s attitude to their mental condition than locking them up in a police cell for hours or days without charge. Hence, the similarities to 18th century Vagrancy Acts that allowed “lunatics” to be incarerated can’t be underestimated. The disproportionate use of this section against the black community has also raised serious concerns about its misuse.

    If we are to embrace the improved understanding of mental health in the 21st century, we perhaps need to stop obsessing about the cases of dangerous and ill persons as a reason to criminalise a whole host of people, who like, the PTSD sufferers, are ordinary people made ill by extrordinary and traumatising events they have experienced. Being locked up by a police officer is probably the worst thing that can happen to someone in those circumstances.

  5. Vintage Hair Lounge documentary in production

    Added 30th January 2010 at 0.00 · No Comments

    The shoot’s started! We’ll be following the progress of quality vintage inspired hair salon and barbers, Vintage Hair Lounge from the salon build to the celebrity launch and beyond. The salon is located in the heart of Southampton’s fashionable French Quarter, a stone’s throw from Town Quay and the City’s cruise liner crossed waterfront. The transformation of the premises is well underway, and the beautiful signage, created from a timeless design by Cassie Leedham at the Good Show Studio gives us a hint of the delights to come. We hear there are a few surprises lined up for “launch week” (27 February - 6 March) too!

    Vintage Hair Lounge

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