It’s an important but unpopular fact that the reason stereotypes endure is because generally they hold true. And one of the most well known stereotypes about the British is that they as a nation tend towards eccentricity. And indeed we are – an Englishman’s home may be his castle but inside you might find anything from scale models of the Great Western Railway to a collection of novelty umbrellas. From the Sealed Knot to extreme ironing, we are a nation of cultists – being slightly mad is as British as a nice cup of tea. And our indulgence of those who would pursue the eccentric has nurtured generations of inventors, artists and musicians.
And perhaps unsurprisingly, our national love of all things off-kilter has produced all manner of cults in the world of entertainment. Only the British would embrace surrealism not as an art form but as a new mode of comedy thanks to the BBC letting The Goons and later Monty Python follow their own warped muses, and only in the leafy suburbs of England could Syd Barrett mutate the blues into extra-cosmic freak outs.
And it’s very telling that HG Wells was not only a pioneer of science fiction but also managed to invent war gaming with his catchily titled 1911 book Little Wars: a Game for Boys From Twelve Years of Age to One hundred and Fifty and For That More Intelligent Sort of Girl Who Likes Boys' Games and Books. Furthermore, it was a British director Walter Booth who was the first to follow Georges Méliès into cinematic sci-fi, with The Airship Destroyer in 1909. And it was the venerable BBC that first brought this genre to television with an adaption of Karel Capek’s R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots in 1938.
From Lewis Carroll to Edgar Wright, from Day of the Triffids to The Mighty Boosh, British cult fiction is a broad territory spanning many genres. And hence it’s always good to have some reliable guides when venturing into this vast landscape, which is where Cadmium 2 the podcast of Cult Britannia comes in.
Airing fortnightly Cadmium 2 brings you in-depth discussions and critical commentary on all that’s British and cult. As in all things cult, sci-fi, horror and fantasy works tend to predominate but Cadmium 2 does also cover comedies like Hot Fuzz and Carry On films as well some more mainstream fare like the James Bond films that inspire cult followings.
The show is hosted by a trio of very knowledgeable chaps, Andrew Richards, Mike Greaves and Paul Greaves, and with each episode they deliver a comprehensive history of the production, rich in the behind the scenes details, building into a full review. They bring to light the context their subject first appeared in but also assess it plays to a modern audience. However the amiable banter and occasional comedy bickering that ensues prevents the show from becoming overly academic; like the BBC, Cadmium 2 informs AND entertains.
For long running shows like The Tomorrow People, they will devote episodes to individual seasons/series or stories, and for franchises like Bond, single films. And this has led to their greatest undertaking, covering every Doctor Who story since the beginning in 1963. Now as this is such a massive undertaking, roughly every other episode returns to the TARDIS’ travels. However their critical approach really pays off here – by illuminating the production history and assessing the stories in the context of the times of their original screenings, Cadmium 2 isn’t just building up an archive of reviews of all the Doctor’s adventures but creating a series in itself that examines the history of this long running cult favourite.
However, even if you are immune to the charms of Gallifrey’s most famous son, there is plenty more to enjoy. And as well as delving into the worlds of cinema and television they also cover radio and audio productions too. It’s a very diverse menu, covering a nice mix of the well known and the obscure - check out the show list here and see for yourself the cornucopia of delights on offer.
For lovers of cult fiction everywhere, Cadmium 2 is a real treat. Find all the details for subscribing and the latest news at their blog here. Additionally there is also a Facebook group to join and you can follow these fine fellows on Twitter too.
UPDATE - 2nd February 2011
Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, Cadmium 2 is now an ex-podcast. It has ceased to be. But for those of you still pining for its fjords, the good news is that Mike and Paul will shortly be launching a new 'cast The Time Vault. The new show will be taking up the reins of the project started in Cadmium 2 and continuing to review every epsiode of Doctor Who but also they will be examining two other worthy subjects The Avengers and Hammer horror! Release details, plus other gubbins, can be found at The Time Vault blog here and there's already a Facebook thingamajig here
JIM MOON, 8th April 2010