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Horizon - sunk to new low

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Messages: 1 - 50 of 132
  • Message 1. 

    Posted by OfficerDibble (U1158251) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    The BBC seems pre-occupied with its own brand values yet has kicked the "Horizon" brand into the gutter and dragged it through the mud in the last few years. The programme that stood for quality science has now been debased with the latest 16/12 edition, presented by Danny Wallace!

    Serious science now presented by a presenter with no credentials. So, as is the norm for the BBC, we have a great programme with a previously loyal audience who looked to Horizon as one of the few places to have science broadcast without being patronising and dumb, re-versioned by throwing a reality presenter at it.

    I might just understand why if there was a widespread call for more "populist" science - but there isn't. Worse still, Danny Wallace's script (visiting various robot R&D facilities in Japan) was a direct lift from the identical James May programme - same shots, same R&D labs, same robots, same questions, same jokes.

    BBC - you have no strategy for science. Your use of our money is a disgrace. You have abandoned your core values, abandoned your audience, you have lost the plot.

    Report message1

  • Message 2

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by Twirlip of the Mists (U4565027) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    I couldn't agree more. I switched off after ten minutes. It is hard to make the subject of robotics completely boring, but they managed it. They did this mainly by keeping the camera almost permanently fixed on the annoyingly matey presenter. We couldn't see a robot pick up a stapler without also having to see the presenter giving the man who built it a high five. Achieving robot intelligence may be unexpectedly hard, but intelligent presentation of television programmes is a skill already highly developed, just apparently forgotten. Artificial intelligence may still be a pipe dream, but artificial stupidity thrives. Are they trying to turn us all into robots?

    Report message2

  • Message 3

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by gorgeous alto in the bleak midwinter (U2377885) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    I totally agree with what the OP has just stated.
    Talk about infantile content.
    Danny Wallace - science ?? smiley - grr
    The programme was an insult to intelligent people.
    I am beginning to depair about the controllers at BBC.
    Lord Reith must be turning in his grave.
    smiley - steam

    Report message3

  • Message 4

    , in reply to message 3.

    Posted by Sagey (U1733140) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    This used to be a 'must-see' but I gave up on it about a year ago now, quite sad really smiley - sadface

    Report message4

  • Message 5

    , in reply to message 3.

    Posted by Squiddly Diddly (U4365170) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    It was awful. I thought I was watching CBBC. Richard Feynman must be turning in his grave.

    Report message5

  • Message 6

    , in reply to message 5.

    Posted by Andy (U2269368) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    We decided not to watch this as, given the poor quality of recent Horizons and the usual style of Danny Wallace, we knew what it would be like. More WOW! pseudo-science, more jokes and more dumbing-down to the level of nursery school. Were we right?

    Report message6

  • Message 7

    , in reply to message 5.

    Posted by flick the switch (U8233509) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    i used to look forward to watching HORIZON

    the programme has sunk into the HORIZON for me

    EVERYTHING DUMBED DOWN smiley - steam

    NEWS
    POLITICS

    THE LIST GOES ON

    not happy at all

    Report message7

  • Message 8

    , in reply to message 5.

    Posted by rowan (U199016) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    I haven't seen many Horizon's recently but I did watch the 'What Time Is it?' one with Professor Brian Cox the other day and thought that it was excellent actually. It's still available to watch if you're interested. It's the first time in years and years that I felt challenged by ideas discussed on telly.
    www.bbc.co.uk/progra...

    Danny Wallace? Really?

  • Message 9

    , in reply to message 8.

    Posted by GaryB007 (U3895241) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    The "What Time Is It" programme was the only half decent one in the series. It's now such a good bet that the programme is poor that I now record it on the PVR and watch it from there. Most of them I've switched off and deleted after a few minutes.

    It's a sad reflection on the BBC that they they have to dumb down to this level in an effort to get viewers.

    Report message9

  • Message 10

    , in reply to message 8.

    Posted by Squiddly Diddly (U4365170) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    I found the Brian Cox programme on Time to be strangely unsatisfying, and I notice it got given the Harry Hill treatment last Saturday.

    Report message10

  • Message 11

    , in reply to message 10.

    Posted by DrHawksmoor (U8878084) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    Sad to report I gave up on Horizon ages ago. Maybe it's just me, but it always seems to be telling me what I already know about a subject rather than investigating it in more depth and revealing new things to me. There was nothing in last night's programme that I couldn't have found out in five minutes of web surfing. smiley - sadface

    Report message11

  • Message 12

    , in reply to message 10.

    Posted by OfficerDibble (U1158251) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    Hi Rowan, Here is the problem - the Horizon badge has been applied to any old science trash that comes into the BBC - presumably to give it added status of the Horizon brand.

    It will have the same effect as sticking the Rover badge on a the Leyland Mini - it doesn't fool anyone and in the long term reduces the value of the brand on all its products.

    As we have seen, Horizon is no longer a mark of quality and so people avoid it. It has no value and can easily be scrapped. the BBC do this repeatedly -Tomorrow's World, One Foot in the Past, CountryFile, House Detectives etc.... all programmes with loyal audiences that are alienated when they are homogenised to "widen the appeal" to include stupid people who don't want to watch it anyway.

    The outrage is we have lost Horizon to make a clone of a James may's programme. Did no-one say in the Robotics lab in japan - "how come you are sending another crew to film all this stuff? James May's crew were here only three weeks ago."

    Report message12

  • Message 13

    , in reply to message 10.

    Posted by stinkybritches (U11851187) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    Horizon is a sad, pale shadow of its former self. I fully expect Timmy Mallett to be announced as editor any day now smiley - grr

    Report message13

  • Message 14

    , in reply to message 12.

    Posted by GaryB007 (U3895241) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    Message posted by Officer Dibble
    Hi Rowan, Here is the problem - the Horizon badge has been applied to any old science trash that comes into the BBC - presumably to give it added status of the Horizon brand.

    It will have the same effect as sticking the Rover badge on a the Leyland Mini - it doesn't fool anyone and in the long term reduces the value of the brand on all its products.

    As we have seen, Horizon is no longer a mark of quality and so people avoid it. It has no value and can easily be scrapped. the BBC do this repeatedly -Tomorrow's World, One Foot in the Past, CountryFile, House Detectives etc.... all programmes with loyal audiences that are alienated when they are homogenised to "widen the appeal" to include stupid people who don't want to watch it anyway.  


    Absolutely completely & totally spot on. Rowan - Any chance you could forward that post to the powers that be. This continual dumbing down in the interests of widening the appeal really needs to be stopped as soon as possible, otherwise intelligent, informative TV will disappear forever.

    Report message14

  • Message 15

    , in reply to message 13.

    Posted by Scrap All Dumbed Down Brain-rotting TV for Sheeple (U10477696) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    Horizon is a sad, pale shadow of its former self. I fully expect Timmy Mallett to be announced as editor any day now  

    Timmy Mallett actually was on "This Week", a program about politics after Question Time. He did a film report and appeared in the studio !

    This Week is a dumbed down disaster.

    Report message15

  • Message 16

    , in reply to message 14.

    Posted by Scrap All Dumbed Down Brain-rotting TV for Sheeple (U10477696) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    Absolutely completely & totally spot on. Rowan - Any chance you could forward that post to the powers that be. This continual dumbing down in the interests of widening the appeal really needs to be stopped as soon as possible, otherwise intelligent, informative TV will disappear forever 

    The "How Mad are You" Horizon program was widely criticised as being dumbed down and the criticism even featured on the Jeremy Vine POV TV prog.

    Report message16

  • Message 17

    , in reply to message 16.

    Posted by rowan (U199016) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    If I have an opportunity to feed your thoughts on I certainly will. Sounds like I luckily hit the best episode in the series.

  • Message 18

    , in reply to message 17.

    Posted by Scrap All Dumbed Down Brain-rotting TV for Sheeple (U10477696) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    If I have an opportunity to feed your thoughts on I certainly will. Sounds like I luckily hit the best episode in the series. 

    I dont think there are many reservations about the Time Horizon program although It was ruthlessly spoofed by Harry Hill last Saturday.

    Report message18

  • Message 19

    , in reply to message 18.

    Posted by Chris Rogers (U10129711) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    Agree with all this. The problem for me with Horizon came years ago when they started covering weather phenomena - almost every ep in a series was super-tornados, mega-storms, etc etc. It was tedious and pointless.

    I'm old enough to remember Horizon in the mid-80s, when you'd get progs on subjects as diverse and fascinating as the history of the helicopter, movie special effects, new theories of colour vision in humans and - the first time I remember hearing about it - unified field theory.

    Report message19

  • Message 20

    , in reply to message 19.

    Posted by Andy (U2269368) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    Absolutely Vexille1.
    I'm sure most of us on here remember Horizon in its heyday, when it dealt with the subjects mentioned plus many more. The no-nonsense, un-flashy presentation and the authoritative voice of Paul Vaughan worked wonderfully well. Now what do we get? Special effects, presenters from the world of comedy and a style that would be suited to a group of bored teenagers.
    I also agree about the 'we're doomed' series of Horizon a few years ago - this is when I stopped watching it. Every bl**dy week we were told we were going to die horrible deaths from super volcanoes, nuclear winter, super-flu, asteroid strike, you name it.

    Report message20

  • Message 21

    , in reply to message 19.

    Posted by Thuban (U8349152) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    This was weak, even by Horizon`s recent standards. I can`t see the point of making science programmes at all, if this is the best they can come up with and the choice of presenter was clearly absurd.

    Report message21

  • Message 22

    , in reply to message 20.

    Posted by Ineffectual Blatherer (U2009082) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    I was glad to find the Time episode still available on iPlayer last night. It's the only episode I kept on my PVR to watch as I was completely uninterested in the subject matter for any of the other episodes. Unfortunately my recording was corrupt probably due to wet weather on the night.

    The guy from Horizon who was on POV a few weeks ago seemed to be saying (and I'm paraphrasing here)

    "Yes, we know that most of it is rubbish, but we need to pull in the morons in order to get the funding to make one or two decent science-based programmes each year"

    Well that's what I understood him to have said.

    Any clues on when exactly this Tomorrow's World-alike programme is supposed to be starting on BBC1 following the lament of science broadcasting by David Attenborough?

    Report message22

  • It's the first time in years and years that I felt challenged by ideas discussed on telly.
     

    Dear Rowan. Regarding what time is it? It is the 21st century. Einstein published his theory of special relativity in 1905. He published his theory on general relativity in 1916. P-branes came from the 1990s and quantum theory (circa 1926?).
    Nothing new there then, ergo: not the province of Horizon.

    As in my previous posts about Horizon, I concur completely with the nay posts above.

    Report message23

  • Message 24

    , in reply to message 23.

    Posted by Scrap All Dumbed Down Brain-rotting TV for Sheeple (U10477696) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    On Channel 4 they often do programs on freak science such as a pregnant man. At least BBC2 hasnt done much of that.

    Report message24

  • Message 25

    , in reply to message 20.

    Posted by Squiddly Diddly (U4365170) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    The no-nonsense, un-flashy presentation and the authoritative voice of Paul Vaughan worked wonderfully well 

    Ah yes - happy days! smiley - ok

    I remember a particularly good one on Black Holes with Prof John Taylor.

    Report message25

  • Message 26

    , in reply to message 20.

    Posted by Chris Rogers (U10129711) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    Aah, Paul Vaughan, one of the Big Four documentary voice over men back in the day, the others being John Hedges, Sean Barrett and of course Andrew Sachs, selectable according to desired level of gravitas and indeed graveliness! You knew where you were then. Vaughan of course is today best known as the Voice of Orange for 10+ years in their TV ad campaigns. Glory days.

    Report message26

  • Message 27

    , in reply to message 26.

    Posted by Andy (U2269368) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    One to add to your list, Vexille1: Derek Cooper of the food programme. His weighty, beefy voice made you believe every word he said, especially if he was talking about food. I could listen to him sampling cheeses or talking to Italian farmers about olives all day!

    Report message27

  • I don't even wish to know who is narrating the programme as long as it contains well-written, 'ground-breaking' science*. Interesting, educational and entertaining ALL come pre-packaged with 'ground-breaking' when it is bought and paid for with hard graft. The last thing I want is a double g-list TV personality getting their egos in the way of fact.

    * and that they can pronounce the word nuclear correctly.smiley - xmaspud

    Report message28

  • Message 29

    , in reply to message 25.

    Posted by stinkybritches (U11851187) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    Paul Vaughan  Da Guvnor! A wonderful voice beautifully deployed by a highly skilled narrator

    Report message29

  • Message 30

    , in reply to message 27.

    Posted by Twirlip of the Mists (U4565027) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    One to add to your list 
    And another, my favourite: Ian Holm.

    Report message30

  • Message 31

    , in reply to message 28.

    Posted by Twirlip of the Mists (U4565027) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    and that they can pronounce the word nuclear correctly 
    Please don't remind me of /that/ documentary! (Otherwise excellent though it was.) smiley - steam

    Report message31

  • Message 32

    , in reply to message 23.

    Posted by bootjangler (U880875) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    Dear Rowan. Regarding what time is it? It is the 21st century. Einstein published his theory of special relativity in 1905. He published his theory on general relativity in 1916......and quantum theory (circa 1926?).
    Nothing new there then, ergo: not the province of Horizon  


    You could have moaned in the heyday of Horizon if they covered those subjects then.

    Report message32

  • Message 33

    , in reply to message 27.

    Posted by jono1959 (U12612855) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    Oh yes ! Derek Cooper, excellent voice reverberating over the hum of a food factory or clatter of a kitchen, thoroughly convincing.

    Report message33

  • Message 34

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by Sine Wave (U2256788) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    I watched with complete disbelief last night. Moreover, I just "Google'd" that guys name and he is no more than a comedian!!!

    This is not just an issue where the "flagship" programme of Horizon is slung to the masses in the hope to bring science to the vox pop of trivial debate but the BBC generally is working very hard to gloss over its broadcasts of late with ever more shallow content dressed up as serious commentary.

    Moreover, I listened to the "Material World" on the net stream the other evening and it was unbelieveable (literally) in what was being debated on there!

    Sadly the OU has also gone the same way with its study materials. I remember the rot setting in with the introduction of S103 and the demise of M101. Even at Foundation level, the collapse was apparent.

    I really do despair! Paul Vaughan left this series and the series thereafter abandoned us! Ian Holm et al please come back!

    Very disillusioned viewer

    M.

    Report message34

  • Message 35

    , in reply to message 34.

    Posted by unacceptable4321 (U12994221) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    I used to watch Horizon with enthusiasm, now even the trails make me squirm so I haven't even bothered.

    It is basically the *only* serious science programme on TV. Er except now it isn't serious or a science programme.

    Report message35

  • You could have moaned in the heyday of Horizon if they covered those subjects then 
    ..but I didn't and they didn't smiley - winkeye

    Report message36

  • Message 37

    , in reply to message 34.

    Posted by Sine Wave (U2256788) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    I managed to watch "The Ascent of Man" back-to-back the other evening. Yes, ALL of the episodes!!

    THAT is what I call serious science! Maybe out of date now but in terms of earnest passion about how the world is made and ran, unbeatable!

    Infact the Horizon programme "How Mad . . ." is just another example of what is driving the vox pop of todays broadcast science. It was nothing but a glorified "Big Brother" (I wont grace it with the term "High Brow") and I dumfounded that people like that were lined up and examined in the way they "looked" primarily.

    Moreover, as a RGN, I was utterly disgusted a senior RMN colleague was on the panel "examining" the members like that!

    How cosmetic, how purile, how totally unacceptable!!

    M

    Report message37

  • Message 38

    , in reply to message 8.

    Posted by dreaded_eddie (U1490485) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    You are replying to:

    Message posted by rowan host I haven't seen many Horizon's recently but I did watch the 'What Time Is it?'  An excellent theme - but a lot of this program was stuff Cox regurgetated from a previous Horizon entitle something like "Whats up with Gravity?" one with Professor Brian Cox   Cant stand the guy - probably to do with his seriously strange smile as if he's on "freak out fungi" and talks to someone else - not the camera.

    Some excellent themes - but so dumbed down even my turtle was taking an interest

    Report message38

  • Message 39

    , in reply to message 38.

    Posted by Fishinghellfly (U9173430) on Wednesday, 17th December 2008

    The BBC is capable of broadcasting good science programmes, such as Jim Al-Khalili's 'Atom'. Of course, this programme was shown on an obscure satellite channel and late at night on BBC2. That's the best you can hope for now, it appears.

    Report message39

  • Message 40

    , in reply to message 39.

    Posted by Peter David Jones (U13137506) on Thursday, 18th December 2008

    Hi

    I would like to say that I completely agree with this thread. Horizon used to be a fantastic programme. The episodes on Richard Feymann for example led me to buying and reading his books and were an example of outstanding tv.

    The recent ones are very poor. The only one in the last few years I have enjoyed is where the female scientist tested various claims and myths.She was good and should be used more. Also I agree the atom programme on bbc 4 was top quality.

    However recent episodes of Horizon should be on cbbc as they are so low quality.

    Report message40

  • Message 41

    , in reply to message 21.

    Posted by MrsSilly (U1487391) on Thursday, 18th December 2008

    I wonder sometimes whether the quality and depth of a programme has more to say about the tenuous grasp and understanding a producer has of the contents of a programme. smiley - winkeye

    Report message41

  • Message 42

    , in reply to message 41.

    Posted by OfficerDibble (U1158251) on Thursday, 18th December 2008

    I think you are right Mrs Silly. There is another factor too. The approach for this programme was cast at commissioning stage. Someone dictated that presenter-led programming is the way to go. Incidentally, the BBC has stated recently that the current WW2 documentary series will be the last Non-presenter led history documentary series from them.

    So clearly we are to be spoon fed our science in the same way. The fact that Danny Wallace was the choice says so much about the BBC's positioning of the brand - erroneously thinking it will be inclusive by having a "hip" presenter. Maybe they wanted to differentiate it from the James May prog. -or maybe they were oblivious to it.

    God help us for the future, where Simon King talking about Meercats gets more airtime than Meercats... and Dinosaurs can't be featured unless it is David Jason Walking with Dinosaurs, or History by a Father and Son double act.

    Do you think there has been a discussion in the BBC commissioning department like this:

    Commissioning editor: "OK - Life on Earth 2 the sequel. Obviously David is on board.... but... he is a bit old isn't he Justin?"

    Justin: "yes... I know what you mean... does he have a son? Maybe we could have them co-presenting amongst Gorillas in the jungle? With a live link back to the studio with Ben Fogle tracking them with a GPS? yeah?"

    Editor: "yes I like it, but Ben's so last year -what about Jeremy Vine - he was good on election night. Or we could have David shot against greenscreen and lay in the jungle behind...H&S would be happier with that...and a phone in of course"

    Justin: "and if we did it live we could have an extended programme on BBC4 and meet out complete science output quota for the year in one fell swoop!"

    Editor: "Bravo Justin - work from home for the next three weeks"

    Report message42

  • Message 43

    , in reply to message 14.

    Posted by moodyjules (U13749496) on Thursday, 18th December 2008

    haven't watched many Horizon progs. but used to love Tomorrows World-bring it back

    Report message43

  • Message 44

    , in reply to message 41.

    Posted by stinkybritches (U11851187) on Thursday, 18th December 2008

    I wonder sometimes whether the quality and depth of a programme has more to say about the tenuous grasp and understanding a producer has of the contents of a programme  I've done a bit of freelance work with the Beeb over the years and they do seem to be overburdened with arts grads

    Report message44

  • Message 45

    , in reply to message 42.

    Posted by Chris Rogers (U10129711) on Thursday, 18th December 2008

    The pernicious presenter-led series is a problem in other genres, even (esp) arts; it reached its nadir for me in the Dimbleby one on UK buildings, where he was filmed up the BT Tower (Post Office Tower as was) oh-so-amusingly attempting to stand upright (and failing) whilst straddling the line between the revolving and non-revolving part of the building. Others posted earlier this year about Andrew Marr (how well named) in Above Britain.

    Of course presenters are key to so-called authored progs - Andrew Graham-Dixon recently, Bronowski many moons ago - but when they're used to simply 'make accessible' a subject which needs none, it's awful

    Report message45

  • Message 46

    , in reply to message 45.

    Posted by petes (U3344676) on Thursday, 18th December 2008

    Yeah, I reluctantly/foolishly tuned into Horizon for the Robot programme even though I suspected it contained the usual juvenile content that the BBC ‘science’ production team aspires to these days. Still, the subject looked interesting.

    I can say, as many others here have commented, that it met and even exceeded the lowest of the low for science content. There was none. Sciencewise, it was pure twaddle.

    What’s even worse it was a Chinese copy of James May programme of a few weeks ago although that programme managed considerably more science content than Horizon delivered and the presenter was far more in tune with the scientific content.

    How we, the license payer, can have regard for an organisation that sends two teams with different presenters, overseas, to film a almost identical script and then make two different but similar programmes beggars belief, especially when the inferior programme is then broadcast under their ‘prestigious, award winning science flagship’ banner.

    Horizon……how low can you sink?

    Report message46

  • Message 47

    , in reply to message 19.

    Posted by Tom Adustus (U9467814) on Thursday, 18th December 2008


    I'm old enough to remember Horizon in the mid-80s, when you'd get progs on subjects as diverse and fascinating as the history of the helicopter, movie special effects, new theories of colour vision in humans and - the first time I remember hearing about it - unified field theory. 


    Ah yes. And the programme about the discovery of the background radiation from the big bang. Also "The Chips are Down" on the development of semiconductor chips and computing.

    Good value for the hour you spent watching them.

    I always seem remember the hard science ones - cosmology, physics, maths etc. They always struck me as the most interesting.
    The medical & social stuff just got switched off - too girly.

    Report message47

  • Message 48

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by Ed of Global Integrated Vision (U8471561) on Thursday, 18th December 2008

    I don't know if I am sad or angry witnessing this demise of a once must-see programme. I've never been a fan of a presenter on Horizon, preferring a narrator; all too often a programme becomes the presenter's show.
    This was a superfluous broadcast. What content there was had already been covered by James May. Danny Wallace contributed no more than lines like "I'm mildly attracted to her" about a robot.
    A gentle stroll in a park where a laboratory once stood would have delivered more science. Lost Horizon for me, but for the target audience probably lots of joyous entertainment.

    Report message48

  • Message 49

    , in reply to message 48.

    Posted by AlecMac (U2367670) on Thursday, 18th December 2008

    I watched it this week for the first time in a long time.

    Why didn't they just repeat the James May program and save the time and money for something worth while.

    I only watched it becuase I saw it was being presented by Danny Wallace and though 'surely shome mishtake'....But no there he was!

    I’ll add my name to the list of people who used to love Horizon but now turn over if I accidently catch the opening credits.

    Everything is wrong. The subject matter is often weak and sensationalist. Undue prominence is given to fringe ideas to create ‘controversy’ within the subject. ‘Who Dunnit’ stories are manufactured to create a story arc that fulfils the needs of people who need ‘entertaining’, and finally, endless repetition and visual tricks that fill out the 5 minutes of actual information.

    Awful TV.

    Report message49

  • Message 50

    , in reply to message 20.

    Posted by Febo (U1184519) on Thursday, 18th December 2008

    I blame the boffins. The Horizon of years ago gained its character from the character of the scientific community - Horizon was its invitation into it's world. You had to sit still and listen.
    Now the boffins, like everyone else are desperate for attention so they've become GM overgushing-know-where-the-camera-is, was-in-a-band-you-know boffins in pointlessly-obvious locations, and so alas has Horizon.

    Report message50

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