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Author Topic: British TV
Lisa
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When I was growing up, I watched The Prisoner, Monty Python, Dave Allen at Large and Doctor Who. All of which were terrific shows.

But over the past couple of years, I've seen some stuff from British TV that's really blown me away. Someone had mentioned the TV movie The Second Coming, so I watched that. It was incredible. And then people were comparing the series Life on Mars with the new American version, so I watched that. It was phenomenal. The sequel, Ashes to Ashes, was good. I enjoyed it, even if it wasn't nearly up to the level of its predecessor.

So anyway, I wanted to ask if anyone here has some recommendations for shows that are worth watching. I know what we have on the TV here in the US, but there's excellent quality stuff that just never makes it here, and I'm sure there's a lot of it that I don't know about.

I'm thinking of taking a look at Robin of Sherwood, because I've heard some good things about it, but it's oldish, so I'm not sure how it'll hold up.

Suggestions?

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Launchywiggin
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From the BBC: Spaced and Big Train are favorites of mine--seriously hilarious, especially if you're a fan of Simon Pegg/Nick Frost comedy.
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MEC
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I have a British TV, I don't get any British programming in New Jersey though, especially since I only have a 360 and a Wii plugged into it.
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ketchupqueen
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If you have a taste for British comedy, try My Hero. We find it hilarious.
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anti_maven
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Strange isn't it - I spend most of my time watching BSG and CSI...

If you're after a Robin Hood fix, the new BBC super whizzy/all HD version is OK, but I prefer the eighties version with more dry ice and fighting fantasy...

Another good series is Black Books if you can find it. Very funny. Very very funny.

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Bella Bee
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I'm trying to think - like anti I watch more US TV than UK.

If you like period murder mysteries, 'Foyle's War' is very good quality all around - acting, story, setting etc.

An oldie (early 1990s) but goodie is also the Fry and Laurie 'Jeeves and Wooster', again if you like that sort of thing.

There have to be loads of others - I'll think about it.

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Narnia
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Vicar of Dibley is one of the warmest, funniest comedies to come out of England since Blackadder...which is also fabulous.

I also recommend The IT Crowd which is 30 minute sit-com-ish, but oh so funny. (I think this one is only available by downloading it.)

My sister and I are also big fans of Keeping up Appearances which is another comedy about communties of wacky people.

If you know about Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French (the ladies behind Absolutely fabulous and Vicar of Dibley) you should check out French and Saunders and their whole series of specials. Really funny. They've also collaborated on a new series called Clattorford that's only got one season out so far, but is just killing.

The stuff I love about these shows are their small-town/office settings. They deal with all the quirky personalities you run into in real communities of people working together. I just love it.

I really need to check out Life on Mars. I adored John Simm in Doctor Who, and I'd love to see him in something else.

I also enjoyed the new version of Robin Hood. It's totally kitchy, but I ended up having a great time with it. I'm excited for the second season.

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Cashew
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Spooks - contemporary spies. edit: just discovered it's called MI-5 in the US.

Waking the Dead - a UK 'Cold Case' but much grittier


Silent Witness - a medical examiner solving crimes

Father Ted - absolutely bizarre and hilarious Irish comedy series about Catholic priests on a remote island. Indescribable.

Cracker - crime series


The Young Ones - comedy about 20 years old now, but timeless. Four students sharing a run down house - a punk, a hippy, an anarchist and a playboy.


Doc Martin - cantankerous London doctor with phobia for blood moves to picturesque English fishing village. Great comedy drama.

Judge John Deed - extremely high quality drama series about British High Court judge battling high level systemic corruption while trying cases and grappling with personal life. A superb series.


Dalziel and Pascoe - two detectives

[ July 15, 2008, 05:30 AM: Message edited by: Cashew ]

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Cashew
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Aaand...

One Foot in the Grave -cantankerous old retiree Victor Meldrew ("I don't beLIEVE it") suffers through his miserable retirement with his poor wife. Sounds terrible, but it's very funny.

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ketchupqueen
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Oh. I also enjoy Rosemary and Thyme, which, for me, is like the "comfort food" of tv-- a cute theme, actors I like (I really enjoy watching Felicity Kendall and Pam Ferris), and you always know "whodunnit" before the show's half over, with gorgeous scenery and not-too-intense plots, and lots of overdone acting that's almost comedic (it reminds me, in fact, of Nancy Drew books, with gardeners, in England. And a beat-up Jeep instead of a snappy convertible. [Wink] )

I don't think it would be your style, though.

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anti_maven
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Wow - if you're taking a trip down memeory lane, how about "The Good Life"?

Tales of self-suffiency in an urban setting from the first time there was an oil crisis. Sounds rubbish, but is wonderfully funny.

To see Penelope Keith give full rein to her vowels, you could do worse than "To the Manor Born" the ninteen-seventies king of sit-coms. Magic.

Also try "The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin". Indescribable, but also very well observed and funny (if a little dated).

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amira tharani
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The Vicar of Dibley is brilliant. Dawn French is amazing.

One of my personal favourite things to watch is Top Gear. It's a "motoring magazine programme" which sounds like it should be all about testing cars and sounding like a "petrolhead" but mostly it's about the three presenters (Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond) doing silly challenges in cars. Clarkson in particular comes out with brilliant lines. Not the sort of thing I ever thought I'd enjoy, but I love it.

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Teshi
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The new Robin Hood starts well but by the second season it's somehow losing track of itself. Like Narnia said, it's pure fun.

I've been watching the Jeremy Brett series of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The Return of Sherlock Holmes. Brett is the definitive Sherlock Holmes and you'll never watch another Sherlock Holmes again without missing him.

I also loved All Creatures Great and Small which is about veterinarians in late 1930s rural England. It features Peter Davison, who was the crickety doctor in the eighties.

quote:
Also try "The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin". Indescribable, but also very well observed and funny (if a little dated).
HAHAHA. Very good. Square hoops.

I too recommend Black Books which is a relatively new comedy series. Cantankerous Irishman (the young kind, not the old kind) runs a second hand bookshop. Well, runs it... you have to see it to understand.

As for reasonably new dramas Hotel Babyon, about the goings-on at a London five star hotel, is very good. Lovely characters, interesting plots.

If you've not seen Hustle, you should. Con men and women trick rich jerks out of their money via ridiculously clever schemes. Like the new US show Leverage but less fluff and unbelievableness.

Most people probably know Red Dwarf, the sci fi comedy about the last man alive, his hologram companion whom he hates, and an evolved cat.

quote:
I'm trying to think - like anti I watch more US TV than UK.
Ha. I do the reverse. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Also, I think it's generally better (though definitely not universally; UK hasn't got a Joss Whedon [Razz] ).
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Lostinspace
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Hmmm I really like the Robin Hood Series. It is my must watch show each week. Actually I record it and then watch it when I have free time...sometimes I have to do a catch up marathon of Robin Hood. But it is the only show I must try and watch if I can each week.
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Originally posted by Narnia:
I also recommend The IT Crowd which is 30 minute sit-com-ish, but oh so funny. (I think this one is only available by downloading it.)

I specifically recommend this one to you, Lisa, as you're a fan of Big Bang Theory.

Also, thanks for starting this thread. Just recently was was thinking that I'd like to try watching some more UK TV. I'm starting with Life on Mars, at your recommendation.

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Scott R
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I do not like the BBC's new Robin Hood series. It needs to decide if it's going for fantastical or historical, and until it does, it gets no more of my time.
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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
quote:
Originally posted by Narnia:
I also recommend The IT Crowd which is 30 minute sit-com-ish, but oh so funny. (I think this one is only available by downloading it.)

I specifically recommend this one to you, Lisa, as you're a fan of Big Bang Theory.
I'll try it. It sounds geeky enough to be good.

quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
Also, thanks for starting this thread. Just recently was was thinking that I'd like to try watching some more UK TV. I'm starting with Life on Mars, at your recommendation.

Enjoy!

There've been a lot of recommendations in this thread, and I'm going to check some of them out. Thanks, everyone.

Just out of curiosity... I kind of like the oddball non-comedy situations. Things that are mostly normal drama, but with something out of the usual tossed in. The Second Coming flick was like that. So was Life on Mars. Fish-out-of-water stuff, magic realism... any more like that?

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Dan_raven
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I still find "Coupling" to be what "Friends" should have been--with perfect comedic timing. Do not compare to the US version, which just couldn't translate that timing.

The new "Dr. Who" is great. Don't think of it as the 1970's version. It has more depth and feeling, and less hokey special effects.

From the 90's they had a lot of brilliant shows that didn't live up to an Atlantic Crossing:

"Who's Line Is it Anyway" is much stronger without Drew Carrie.

"The Office" is great, though the US version has found its legs.

There was a gardening show that did to back yards what "Queer Eye" did for style. Funny, surprising, and educational, too bad I can't think of the name of it.

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Lostinspace
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quote:
Originally posted by Scott R:
I do not like the BBC's new Robin Hood series. It needs to decide if it's going for fantastical or historical, and until it does, it gets no more of my time.

I guess since its a imaginary television show when they go into those moments it doesn't bother me because I know its not real.
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mr_porteiro_head
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No, I'm pretty sure it's a real TV show. [Razz]
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Cashew
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If you want people in a slightly weird situation try the reality series "A Place in Slovakia". There were two series of this reality show, about Anne and her husband Peter(?) with more money than sense trying to buy a hotel in Slovakia. This couple have to be seen to be believed - you sit there with your mouth gaping open half the time at their (particularly Anne's) total lack of class and sense, and the relationship between her (on marriage number 5) and her younger hen pecked husband. There are some truly bizarre situations, and the sarcastic voice over commentary is hilarious.
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JennaDean
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Oh, Dan Raven, I was just going to mention Coupling. It and Doctor Who are my two favorites, probably because they both include quite a bit of Stephen Moffatt writing. He's brilliant.

I also love Vicar of Dibley and Blackadder, both old ones which are on PBS occasionally. I used to really enjoy Hetty Wainthrop Mysteries, too. Actually almost any of the mysteries - Miss Marple, Foyle's War, Inspector Lynley, Brother Cadfael.

Robin Hood is just sort of an enjoyable substitute for Doctor Who when that's not on, but I find it hard to care about sometimes.

Lisa, I've been waiting to see The Second Coming because it has Christopher Eccleston in it, who is "fantastic". Glad to hear a good review.

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Lisa
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That's actually one of the reasons I watched it. The other was that the subject intrigued me. And he was absolutely fantastic.
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Uindy
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The shows I love on BBC are Top Gear and Kitchen Nightmares.
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Amilia
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I will also be using this thread for recommendations. Thanks for starting it, Lisa. :-)

Some of my favorites that have not been previously mentioned:

QI or Quite Interesting. Stephen Fry hosts a celebrity panel quiz show where you get more points for being interesting than you do for being right, and you loose points for giving the obvious (but wrong) answer. Besides Stephen, the only regular panelist is Alan Davies, and they have incredible chemistry. Alan plays the idiot to Stephen's Cambridge genius. This clip encapsulates many of the things I enjoy about the show: you learn something quite interesting, everyone cracks jokes, and the panelists take the mickey out of Stephen for his oh so posh and old fashioned accent. Series A & B are available in Region 2, but not Region 1. It is all readily available via other means.

Takin' Over the Asylum which I discovered while stalking David Tennant. Absolutely beautiful Scottish drama about a door to door window salesman who dreams of being a DJ. So he volunteers at the local hospital radio. Until they fire him. At which point he starts volunteering at the local mental institution. I loved every single character in this show. And it was so beautifully written and put together. The ending was just perfect. There's only one season, so you only have to commit to watching 6 episodes. Once again, it is only available in Region 2 (and that is a recent development) so . . .

Blackpool aired in the US as Viva Blackpool. Also discovered while stalking D. Tennant. I'm not quite sure why I like this one so much. It's a gritty cop drama/murder mystery (boring) with an adulterous love triangle (blech), and unlike Takin' Over the Asylum, I didn't like any of the characters. But Tennant is uber hot. And every now and again, the characters start singing along with the soundtrack (which is excellent). With that ringing endorsement, I know you are all rushing around madly trying to find this show. Like I said, I can't tell you what it is about this drama that makes it so good. As with the others, not available in Region 1. Oh, and here is my favorite song from Blackpool.

And I have just spent way too long trying to find just the right clips to introduce all my favorite shows. :-)

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amira tharani
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QI! I'd forgotten about that! It's a great show, but it's on late on a Friday here, so I often miss it. However, if you can access BBC iPlayer over there (www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer) you can watch BBC shows online for a week after they are broadcast on the BBC. Very useful for Have I got News for You - another panel quiz show which is lots of fun, but because it's topical it makes less sense if you see it after a while.
Black Books is great too, and the woman from it is in a new comedy drama called Love Soup which looked interesting from the half-episode I caught.

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Lisa
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I watched the first ep of The IT Crowd last night. It was hilarious! Thanks to Narnia and mr_porteiro_head.
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JennaDean
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Oh, Amilia, a fellow stalker. Glad ta meet ya.

Another DT show I loved was Recovery, I thought he was wonderful in that. And I just love Sarah Parrish. It's about a man who gets in a car accident and has a major brain injury, and the way it affects his life and his marriage and family.

And Blackpool is just ... unique. The characters are so full. None of them is really good or bad; for several episodes I couldn't decide whether I liked Ripley Holden or not. In the US you usually tend to have "good guys" and "bad guys" - I actually had to think about this guy. The detective (Carlisle) is no white knight either - he has his own problems compromising the investigation. And they kept the mystery of "whodunit" for a long time. The singing is what drew me to the show at first - nobody does that on television! (My kids will watch the musical numbers over and over on YouTube. Their favorite is "Should I Stay or Should I Go" with the two Davids in the swimming pool.) It's funny - they tried an American version of "Blackpool" last year, "Laughlin", and it was horrible. Why did it work so well in the UK and not in the US? Still don't know.

Love Top Gear, too; I never thought I would be a car show person, but it's hilarious and entertaining. And I had forgotten about The Young Ones! I used to love that show.

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ketchupqueen
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QI sounds a lot like "My Word", a radio show that used to be syndicated on NPR. I loved "My Word" (and "My Music") so I think I'd enjoy QI. Thanks for the rec., and you too amira for the player rec. I'll see if the player works for me sometime!
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Stephan
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I hate most sitcoms, but Coupling keeps me laughing no matter how many times I put the dvds in.
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Synesthesia
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I like Coupling a lot. And Waiting for God, but that's a really old show.
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kmbboots
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I really miss some of the older* British imports. Upstairs, Downstairs, Tenko. My very favorite as a kid was the very sweet No, Honestly.

Hmmm...I wonder if those might be on DVD.

* by "older" I mean before most of you were born.

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TheBlueShadow
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QI is fantastic. Top Gear is amazing and so much more than a car show. Unfortunately, an American version is in the works and I don't have much faith in it without Jezza, Hamster, and Captain Slow. Doctor Who is a given.

I'm a sucker for all the panel quiz shows. Have I Got News For You, 8 out of 10 Cats, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Would I Lie to You, etc... Tv Heaven, Telly Hell has had some extremely funny moments. The guests select their favorite and most hated shows on tv and make fun of them.

quote:
There was a gardening show that did to back yards what "Queer Eye" did for style. Funny, surprising, and educational, too bad I can't think of the name of it.
Ground Force?

There was recently a Top Gear/Ground Force Crossover: Top Ground Gear Force where much mayhem was ensued. I believe it was for Comic Relief.
A clip: http://youtube.com/watch?v=z4VEYXHh-P8

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Stephan
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Has anyone mentioned Red Dwarf? I loved the series so much that I have recently started on the novels, just as funny.
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AvidReader
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Great links, Amilia. I'd love to see more of Takin Over the Asylum. PBS doesn't import nearly enough British shows.
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scholarette
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I loved Black Adder.
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
QI is fantastic.
I kept getting annoyed with QI for how they kept getting things plain wrong, or saying things as absolutes when they weren't.
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TL
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I have to echo the recommendation for 'Spaced' -- it might be my favorite comedy series. It's so good. Check it out.
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JennaDean
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quote:
I'd love to see more of Takin Over the Asylum.
Shh. Check that Tube You have. It's all there ... today at least....
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TheBlueShadow
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quote:
I kept getting annoyed with QI for how they kept getting things plain wrong, or saying things as absolutes when they weren't.
Well, the point of the game is to say things that are interesting, not necessarily true. Points are only taken away when someone says the obvious answer.

So it's only a semi-factual show. They do mention this but mostly they present it all as complete truth - and that's just not so. I'm in it for the guests mainly, with a side bit of possibly incorrect trivia.

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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by TL:
I have to echo the recommendation for 'Spaced' -- it might be my favorite comedy series. It's so good. Check it out.

What's it about?
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