After following sleigh rides, canal tours and bus rides in real-time, BBC4’s latest slow TV project sees us jump onboard the Flying Scotsman locomotive for a scenic jaunt through the midlands of England, complete with nice views, interesting facts and (presumably) lots of steamy moments. You know, because it’s a steam engine.
My name’s Huw and I’ll be following every twist and turn (and railway signal) here on our liveblog from the programme’s beginning at 9.00pm, because I feel a civic duty to entertain and inform my fellow man (and I dont know what to do with my time between Christmas and New Year either). All aboard!
22.02: And now we’ve reached our final destination – thanks to everyone for choo-choo-choosing to spend an hour with our live blog, and forgiving some of the more egregious jokes/puns I’ve made.
But I’ll leave you with one final thought. What if the REAL slow journey…was the friends we made along the way?
22.00: Some fan reactions:
Fabulous bit of TV that was. I never realised the skill required to 'drive' such a beautiful, powerful machine. #FlyingScotsman#bbc4
21.59: Oh wow, and now it’s ended! What a whirlwind that was.
21.57: Ryan’s dream to ride in the Flying Scotsman came true, and now my dream is coming true as well – I can stop making facile jokes about trains while listening to very intelligent and knowledgeable people inform viewers properly.
21.51:Someone has just asked me what this guy does, as he’s mainly just been sitting there.
Well, his name is Noel Hartley, and he’s Rail Operations Manager for the National Railway Museum. Plus the team eye candy.
21.49: Literally light at the end of a tunnel there, but also metaphorically as we enter the final 10 minutes of this journey. Rather speedy, the Scotsman, even when she’s being held back at lower speeds.
21.47: On a serious note, BBC4 have been doing a sterling job tweeting all sorts of background details about the places the Scotsman has been travelling through all night, so there’s some nice trivia on their Twitter account of you’re interested.
However, they’ve had very little in the way of Thomas the Tank Engine memes, so I think we all know we’re in the right place here with my coverage.
21.45: Cheeky fact from BBC4:
With three platforms, Bewdley station is the largest on the line. Its two 1877-built signal boxes are the railway's oldest. #FlyingScotsman
21.44: Now we’re pulling into Bewdley, where there’s some sort of cool double track that Roger goes ape for. He loves it.
21.41: Exclusive images of what’s actually gone wrong on the Flying Scotsman tonight.
21.38: Oh no, there’s a yellow signal, which means DANGER. They might have to slow down! Or even stop. This is too much, feel as tense as when Game of Thrones was ramping up to the Red Wedding. What will happen?!?
21.35: Much as I enjoy Roger and Ryan’s commentary, I think these long silences are what Slow TV’s all about really. Lovely.
21.32: Not really sure how/if they fixed that fire thing. Sure it’ll be pored over on the locomotive subreddits later tonight though.
21.31: Oh no you guys, the “shape of the fire isn’t quite right”. Could this be the end of our plucky band of railway men?
21.29: Still, I think I might prefer this informative, voiceover-stuffed version of the format. I’m learning lots about steam pressure and things.
Then again, it’s probably also because I’m a filthy millennial who likes the faster pace. No concentration, my generation.
21.26: Interestingly, there is a difference between this journey and the previous sleigh ride, bus journey and canal boat rides BBC4 has offered – this isn’t an official part of the All Aboard! series those were a part of for some reason.
It’s a shame really, because the prefix would make way more sense here. People ACTUALLY SAY all aboard for trains.
Anyway, I’m not sure what marks this out as different. Is it a knock-off? A different take on it? A different idea that was awkwardly forced into the same bracket as the All Aboard! series? I’d be interested to see the behind-the-scenes on this one. I’ll have to wait for the Blu-Ray commentary, no doubt.
21.20: Sorry, just throwing this “Meme” in to pull in the younger audience. They’ll love this, those metropolitan liberal kids.
21.20: The train has popped into a station. This is nice and peaceful, isn’t it? Though as I’m sure many fans of BBC4’s previous slow TV series have noticed, it’s not as quiet as usual. There’s VOICEOVER instead of just silent landscapes and superimposed text on the screen, as we’ve come to expect!
BBC4 has sold out. I blame Brexit.
21.17: Ryan is waxing lyrical about all the people coming out to wave at steam trains, which is nice. It is a BIT like people who prefer vinyl, though, so really we’re getting all soppy about glorified hipsters. But, you know, for trains.
21.13: And HERE’S a look at their route today.
Roger also just implied that this train (built in 1923, fact fans) may have some form of sentience, and longs to break the chains of her human enslavers to go at a faster speed. We can see the TV adaptation already: First Great Westworld.
21.08: Here’s a look at that gorgeous train cab, by the way, and the brass levers Ryan was so lovingly injecting into the engine.
Apparently this is the first time the pair have been at the Scotsman controls, so isn’t it nice that we’re here to share it with them?
21.07: Oh yeah, we’re finally getting the sweet sweet track shot. This is why I pay my license fee.
21.06: We’ve met a few characters thus far as the locomotive makes its way down the Severn river valley. These two are our main hosts (and voiceover men) today: driver Roger Norfolk and fireman Ryan Green.
Don’t they look like nice boys?
21.04: Having all sorts of problems getting it going. Man, it’s almost like this technology is outdated and should have been replaced in the march towards progress.
JK don’t email in, I love me some steam trains. Stephenson’s Rocket? More like Stephenson’s ROCK-IT, am I right?
(I can only imagine how annoying this is to actual fans of trains looking for insight here).
21.00: And we’ve started! Already the story laced with drama, as the train is struggling to get out of the station, because the engine is a cold engine. On a Gradient of 1 to 100. I will pretend I know what this means.
20.59: BBC4 announcer just made a joke about the Flying Scotsman making men and women “weak at the knees”. And here I thought my “steamy” joke (above) was the sexiest thing that would happen tonight.
20.55 Only five minutes to go! Hope you’ve all got your tickets and railcards ready.
20.45: Oh, just for a warm-up, here’s the Radio Times review for FSFTF by our very own Alison Graham.
“All aboard for a delightful trip on the footplate of the purring, silkily beautiful Flying Scotsman. If there’s one thing to tweak the nostalgia synapse in us all, it’s the glorious sight of a steam engine, and BBC4’s latest Slow TV essay takes us right into its fiery heart.
Driver Roger Norfolk, dapper in a shirt and tie, is at the controls as he takes the Flying Scotsman along the Severn Valley Railway from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster. His small team of colleagues, including the fireman who keeps the engine going, all mesh seamlessly and quietly as they get on with their specific tasks.
What’s both lump-in-the-throat and so very British are the countless people who line the route to wave and cheer. It’s not just station platforms that are full, but also fields and every gap in every hedgerow as grown-ups and kids yelp with delight as the mighty beast rolls by.”
So there’s the official company line, which is also an easy way to include some ACTUAL well-crafted and professional writing in this live blog. I’m off the hook!
20.30pm: Hello there, and welcome to our exciting* live blog of BBC4’s Flying Scotsman from the Footplate. From 9.00pm I’ll be here chatting all about the programme and making bad jokes, and I’d love it if you could join me as we chug through the Severn Valley. Hopefully, see you in half an hour!