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From Driller Killer to Cannibal Holocaust - they were dubbed the scourge of our society in the 1980s and blamed for morally corrupting our children.
Labelled obscene, Video Nasties, as they were dubbed, became a media sensation and were seized upon by social commentators as a symbol of technology leading us down an immoral path.
Violent, graphic imagery on the cover of the videos, coupled with disturbing content, made the ‘Nasties’, the forbidden fruit of the film world.
Some of the most well-known titles included:
- Driller Killer
- The Last House on the Left
- Cannibal Holocaust
- The Evil Dead
- I Spit on your Grave
Now, one University of Sunderland academic is re-examining the controversial genre and has urged us to the hit the pause button on writing off these horror flicks.
Dr Mark McKenna has been presenting his “Rethink of Video Nasties” paper at a film conference in Europe.
In it, Dr McKenna takes a look at the “wider reasons” behind society’s outcry at the films and examines how, over the following decades, they became highly prized cult classics.
Dr McKenna said: “In the early 80s these video releases were not brought before the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) due to a loophole in classification laws, which said the films did not need to be submitted to them.
“This led to the distribution of films from America and Europe which became known as ‘Video Nasties’, leading to public debate concerning the availability of these films to children due to the unregulated nature of the market.”
The widespread distribution of the films in the newly emerging video market prompted an outcry that saw prominent figures like Mary Whitehouse and The National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association (NVALA) demand the films be banned – and in some cases prosecution – of the movies and their distributors.
Dr McKenna takes a look at reactions to the films in a wider context, examining what was happening in British society at the time, as well as the film industry’s fears over the emerging video market.
Dr McKenna said: “The Conservative Government was struggling in the aftermath of the Brixton and Toxteth riots, the sinking of the Belgrano, and by reacting to the issue of Video Nasties they could demonstrate resolve to largely fictitious problem.
“What we have to remember is that this type of reaction is nothing particularly new. In the 1950s comic books were causing the same type of outcry, while in more recent years, the internet and social media have been blamed for many of society’s ills.
“The emergence of the home video market was also a threat to the cinema industry who felt their share of the marketplace could be compromised. An effort to suppress it followed.”
Contrary to popular opinion, the video version of The Exorcist was never included on the Director of Public Prosecution's list of ‘Video Nasties’. After the Video Recordings Act (VRA) was introduced in 1984 it became a requirement that all films obtain a certificate from the BBFC to be legally released in the UK. It was subsequently removed from the shelves - after nearly four years of being freely availability – it would be 1998 before the film was legally available on video.
Dr McKenna added: “In the years that followed ‘Video Nasties’ were promoted through the language of exploitation, before shifting towards an emphasis that foregrounded quality and authenticity, and in doing so helped to change the way products typically understood as exploitation might be promoted.”
A book based upon Dr McKenna’s research, Nasty Business: The Marketing and Distribution of the Video Nasties will be published next year by Edinburgh University Press. Anyone wanting more information about this or Dr Mckenna’s other research can contact him via his website www.drmarkmckenna.co.uk
Tributes have been paid to the “talented and inspiring” global design director of car giant Ford who died at the age of 53.
University of Sunderland alumnus Christopher Svensson oversaw the distinctive styling of the current Ford GT and played key roles in the design of the Ford Ka and Ford Focus.
Born in 1965 and raised in Sunderland, Christopher undertook a foundation art course at the city's then polytechnic between 1983/84.
Joe Woodhouse, Programme Leader for the Foundation Diploma in Art and Design at the University of Sunderland, said: “The University was deeply saddened to hear about the death of Chris and we would like to pass on our condolences to his family and loved-ones.
“We are very proud that Chris was part of the University family and we have followed his career with admiration. We are sure that future generations of our students will be inspired by his talents and many achievements.”
After leaving Sunderland, Christopher went on to study at Coventry University and held a Master of Arts degree from the Royal College of Art.
After graduation, he joined Ford Germany in 1992 as an exterior designer and had a successful career at Ford which lasted for 26 years.
Christopher worked for Ford’s design centres in Australia, England, and Germany, rising to the title of Design Director of Ford Asia Pacific and Africa before moving to the U.S. in order to work at the company's headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan.
In Dearborn, Christopher served as head of Ford design for North & South America and as Global Design Director for trucks, SUVs, and commercial vehicles, as of January 2014.
As an exterior designer at Ford, he was known for his work on the first-generation Ford Ka city car and the third-generation of the Ford Focus.
Following the announcement of Christopher’s death, Ford Motor Company said: “We are sad to learn of the passing of Ford Design Director Chris Svensson. Chris was a talented designer, an inspiring leader, and a friend to many people. He made countless contributions to Ford during his 26-year career and he will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”
Christopher Svensson is survived by his wife, Sonia, and their two twin daughters.
The heartbreaking story of a stalking victim murdered by her boyfriend has formed the basis of an award winning podcast- which is now available to download.
Graduate in Advanced Radio Production and Management Emma Casson had interviewed Alice Ruggles just a year before she was killed by her ex-boyfriend. Emma felt she needed to warn others about the dangers of stalking, so met and interviewed the family and friends of Alice in the months following her death.
‘Alice’s Story’ has now been received a Silver Award from the Charles Parker Prize, and an interview and excerps from Emma's documentary have featured in BBC Radio 4 Extra's documentary, Charles Park Prize, which was produced by Jay Sykes, Academic Tutor in radio production at the University, and Andy Cartwirght, Programme Leader for MA Radio.
Speaking earlier this year, Emma, from Wallsend, said: “After what happened to Alice, all I could think was that this could have been me, or one of my friends.
“I want more people to be aware of what stalking is and the consequences it can have.”
You can listen to Emma’s documentary podcast in full here:
Lance Corporal Trimaan “Harry” Dhillon is currently serving a life sentence for the murder of 24-year-old Alice at her Gateshead flat in October 2016.
Dhillon had driven 120 miles from his barracks near Edinburgh to confront Miss Ruggles before murdering her.
A jury at Newcastle Crown Court convicted him of murder after they took less than two hours to dismiss his story that she had accidentally stabbed herself.
A year before her death, Alice, who had been working for Sky in Newcastle, was interviewed by Emma for a project about moving from university into working life.
“It was funny,” recalls Emma. “I turned up to interview her and we were both wearing the exact same outfit from New Look.
“I liked her straight away, she was a lovely girl and we were around the same age.”
After hearing about the murder – and the subsequent campaign of stalking which Dhillon had inflicted on Alice – Emma felt she needed to do something.
“I saw that Alice’s family had set up the Alice Ruggles Trust,” said Emma. “So I arranged to interview them as well as Maxine McGill who had been Alice’s flatmate.”
The interviews would form the basis of the Alice’s Story podcast in which listeners hear first-hand about the campaign of stalking which ultimately led to Alice’s death.
Emma, who is currently working freelance making documentary podcasts, said: “Alice’s family are such strong and dignified people and it’s really important to them to get the message out there about stalking.
“A lot of young people don’t realise just how easy it can be to track someone online. It’s incredible the amount someone can find out about you just through social media accounts.”
Emma has also set up a website which offers advice and guidance around the issue of stalking. The podcast is also available to listen to.
This week is National Stalking Awareness Week with efforts being made across the UK to raise the profile of the problem.
According to the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, 73% of stalking victims experience 100 incidents before reporting any to the police.
For more information about National Stalking Awareness Week visit the Alice Ruggles Trust website
Are you a victim of stalking? Where to get help:
- The best thing is to phone the Suzy Lamplugh Trust's National Stalking Helpline: 0808 802 0300. They are open weekdays between 09:30 and 16:00, except Wednesdays when they open at 13:00.
- You can also call 101 to contact the police.
- Paladin’s National Stalking Advocacy Servicealso provides support, advice and advocacy to high-risk victims of stalking. While they are often called in by professionals, Paladin may also be contacted directly on 0203 866 4107, or e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org
Meet the new star of North East radio station Sun FM.
Lauren McLeish is about to start the job of her dreams.
Today the former Broadcast Media Production student from the University of Sunderland begins co-presenting the Breakfast Show on Sun FM Radio.
It’s a dream come true for 22-year-old Lauren who will be sharing the airwaves with veteran presenter Simon Grundy.
Despite feeling a little nervous, Lauren, of South Shields, says she is excited and raring to get started.
She said: “When I got the phone call saying I’d got the job, I couldn’t believe it; I nearly fell on the floor.
“It’s mad, just mad. When I told my nana I’d got it she just burst out crying.”
It’s a big opportunity for the graduate who will be joining the longest running same presenter led breakfast show in the North East, and the most listened to commercially across Wearside.
But Lauren, a former pupil of Church High School in Jesmond, is well prepared for her new role having spent her time at University working with Spark FM and learning all about the radio industry.”
She said: “I love presenting; it’s where my heart is. The immediacy of it, the fact that it’s live.”
Lauren’s Breakfast Show co-presenter and Sun FM Radio Content Director Simon Grundy said: “It is great to be bringing new local talent onto the show, so make sure you tune in on 103.4FM from Monday.”
Lauren added: “For the past few weeks I’ve been doing the showbiz and travel with Sun FM which has been great but Monday is a whole new ball-game.
“Everyone has been so nice though and crew feels like a big family, they’ve been so welcoming.”
Lauren graduated earlier this month, on July 4, at the Stadium of Light and within a few weeks received the call telling her about her new job.
She added: “I was always 100% sure what I wanted to do, just not sure how I would get there. The University of Sunderland played a key role in helping me sort that out.
“My lecturers were amazing and really supportive, going out of their way to help me whenever I had any doubts, convincing me I was doing the right thing.”
Julian Carter, Managing Director at Sun FM Radio said: “Linking up with the University of Sunderland was a natural thing to do, and whether it be through interns or work experience we have found some great people who want to work on the biggest station covering Sunderland.”
Q&A with Lauren
What’s the best thing about Sunderland?
Roker Beach & The Sunderland International Air Show
What’s your food heaven?
Japanese Gyoza Dumplings with Nana’s Apple Crumble to follow
What’s your food hell?
Anything with courgettes, aubergines or raw onions in – na!
Drink of choice?
Being on the breakfast show my life is fuelled by coffee and coffee only! Aside coffee, I love a margarita
Other than Simon, who is your dream co-presenter?
I’d love to present a show with Channing Tatum, I’m sure he’d make a great co-presenter because he’s so…talkative…
Who is your hero?
My nana is my hero. She’s absolutely incredible. Strongest, kindest and most caring lady I’ve ever met
Dream holiday destination?
I’d love to take a tour around all of America in a big American Dodge staying in each states fanciest hotels
James Bay/Ben Howard
City of Angels or The Planet of The Apes Trilogy
4 dream dinner party guests?
Seb Larsson (former SAFC player), Dwayne Johnson, Chris Ramsey and Justin Timberlake
Europe or America?
Overall student satisfaction at the University of Sunderland is 84% according to National Student Survey (NSS) results released today, 27 July; meanwhile 88%* of the North East university’s students feel their experience has been valuable, which is 10% higher than the average for England.
The University of Sunderland has seen record levels of participation in the NSS, with four out of every five students completing the survey and giving feedback on their satisfaction with the quality of their course, teaching excellence, support they receive and their overall experience.
Shirley Atkinson, University of Sunderland’s Vice-chancellor, said: “We’re particularly delighted to see that overall student satisfaction at the University of Sunderland is 84% - this is above the 83% sector average, which has seen a small decline. And the high percentage (88%) of our students who feel their experience has been valuable is very gratifying – demonstrating the impact our transformation programme and focus on student experience and outcomes are having.”
Students ranked many of the University of Sunderland’s subjects highly. Student satisfaction was 100% for programmes including:
- BA (Hons) Education Studies
- BSc (Hons) Computer Science with Sandwich Year
- BSc (Hons) International Tourism and Hospitality Management
- BSc (Hons) Psychology with Counselling
- BSc (Hons) Social Sciences
- BSc (Hons) Sports Coaching
While over 90% of students were satisfied with programmes including: BSc (Hons) Psychology; BA (Hons) Fine Art; BA (Hons) Business and Financial Management; BEng (Hons) Mechanical Engineering; Master Pharmacy; BA (Hons) Primary Education; BA (Hons) Photography Video and Digital Imaging; BSc (Hons) Sociology; BA (Hons) Childhood Studies
Shirley Atkinson continued: “Students are at the heart of everything we do at the University of Sunderland and in their responses they have expressed their satisfaction with areas including ‘teaching on my course’, ‘learning opportunities’ and ‘academic support’ – placing the University of Sunderland above the sector average.
“The very high levels of participation mean we can be confident these results reflect the views of our student community, which show how highly students themselves rate and value their experience at the University of Sunderland – clearly highlighting the positive impact of our ambitious transformation programme; investment in facilities and infrastructure; and our focus on excellent teaching, applied research, professional practice and collaborative industry links.”
A fund set up to help University of Sunderland students improve their experiences and impact on the wider community has led to the creation of a unique series of artworks exhibited in one the region’s most iconic structures.
Sunderland students and graduates joined with glass artist Matt Durran for the Sunderland Glass Heap Challenge, bringing together recycling and art. The results of the event were temporarily installed inside the historic Roker Pier tunnel and lighthouse.
The Glass Heap Challenge was funded by the Silver Fund, created to give students studying at the University of Sunderland unique opportunities they would not otherwise have the chance to enjoy. The fund has supported dozens of students’ creative ideas – from installing equipment that allowed media students to set up their own DJ Society to creating a hiking club; created for students who are not interested in traditional sport but want to stay fit and see some of our beautiful region.
The Sunderland Glass Heap Challenge took place earlier this year at the Roker Pods on Marine Walk, and gave the public the chance to watch artists and makers explore the creative potential of salvaged glass and clay from National Glass Centre.
The Challenge was originally inspired by figures which show that for the first time in its manufacturing history, the production of glass has reached a tipping point. Globally, there is now enough waste glass in circulation to make it completely unnecessary to mine raw materials. The Glass Heap Challenges were created by Matt Durran to show that we can avoid adding to the heaps of waste glass designated ‘low value’ and stockpiled across our planet, and we can even reduce the amount of waste we already have.
Helen Pailing, who is studying for her PhD in ‘Recrafting Waste’, led the project for the University of Sunderland with 15 other Sunderland glass and ceramics students, staff and industry professionals.
She says: “There is often excess material produced when working with glass and clay, and we’re keen to show what can be made out of these remnants.
”The event was a great success and everyone enjoyed taking part. Installing the artworks in Roker Pier tunnel and lighthouse was a very special experience for those involved.”
The event was such as success that the University and Roker Lighthouse Trust are run a similar event again next year.
Helen added: “Hopefully this has been a catalyst for an annual event celebrating creative ways to reuse waste materials.”
The Sunderland Glass Heap Challenge is funded by the University of Sunderland Development Trust Silver Fund with support from AHRC CDT and Heritage Lottery Fund (Roker Pier & Lighthouse Project).
To find out more about tours of Roker Pier and Lighthouse go to: https://www.rokerpier.co.uk/coming-soon
Academics from the University of Sunderland have been leading the way in tourism and events research after organising an international conference.
Described as “the most significant research event” of its type, The Tourism, Hospitality & Events INternational Conference – THE INC – was organised in partnership with the University of Derby and the Centre for Research in Tourism Excellence (CERTE).
The event, held in June this year, welcomed representatives from 26 different countries across the five continents, with presentations made to more than 120 attendees.
In addition, three keynote sessions were presented by Professor Alan Clarke from the University of Pannonia in Hungary; Professor Elena Cavagnaro, from Stenden University in the Netherlands; and Professor Nigel Morgan from the University of Swansea.
Dr Nikolaos Pappas, Reader in Tourism, Hospitality and Events, and Director of CERTE at the University of Sunderland, said: “The diverse perspectives and research from different scientific fields and disciplines is important in understanding the changing dynamics of tourism, hospitality and events.
“THE INC aims to become a beacon of research knowledge dissemination.”
Organisers say THE INC 2018 has set the research output bar very high, hosting three highly esteemed (ABS 2*) journals (Event Management; Hospitality & Society; Service Industries Journal); generating special issues in two of those journals (EM; H&S) expected to be published in mid-end 2019; having as exhibitors three of the largest publishers in the world (CAB International; Goodfellow Publishers; Routledge); and launching a new scientific journal (International Journal of Spa & Wellness) with Taylor & Francis.
The conference was held at the University of Derby.
Dr Pappas added: “THE INC will be held in a biennial basis. The next conference will be organised in spring 2020 at Stenden University in Leeuwarden in the Netherlands.”
Meet Princess Alaria of the North Sea.
This University of Sunderland graduate is making a splash across the North East after finding work – as a mermaid.
Princess Alaria – real name Hannah Potter – is fast becoming a popular fixture at both children’s parties and corporate events throughout the region.
Hannah, from New Hartley in Northumberland, has jumped right in at the deep end for her new role, even gaining qualifications which allow her to swim safely in huge tanks at the organised events.
Hannah’s success reflects the growing trend across the country for character-themed entertainment parties, for both children and adults.
Now, the 23-year-old is turning her passion into a business having launched Pure Imagination Events, offering not only mermaids but a whole host of other characters including pirates and princesses.
Hannah said: “I think I’m the first performing mermaid in the North East to have got so many qualifications.
“You need certain qualifications so that you can perform in a pool with the tail on at the events.
“It’s not just children’s parties, we’ve had a lot of requests for corporate events and sometimes there are the specialised big tanks which I swim in.”
Hannah launched her events company in February, along with her mum Julie Potter, after graduating from the University of Sunderland in 2016 where she studied Animation and Games Art.
She said: “It might seem like a big leap from animation to mermaids but I’m hoping to eventually create a comic about the characters we have as part of the business.
“This type of thing is really big in America at the minute and we incorporate lots of different things into the service we provide, from the music to the decorations and even bespoke cakes.”
Hannah pulled on her tail this week as she did a photoshoot off the North East coast, drawing quite a crowd who were out enjoying the warm weather.
During her time at the University of Sunderland Hannah was selected to take part in a CBBC initiative, which saw her animation brought to life on the small screen for the hit series ‘Scream Street’.
To find out more about Hannah’s events visit Pure Imagination Events on Facebook.
Business support for Hannah’s venture has come from The Enterprise Place based at Hope Street Xchange in Sunderland. The Internships and Enterprise project is receiving up to £2,207,656 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding
Vital research work which aims to help millions of patients struggling to take their medication has won praise from a pharmaceutical giant.
The University has been working on developing and formulating fast disintegrating tablets to help people who are currently unable to swallow medicines in a conventional way.
Now the research has caught the attention of Mylan Pharmaceuticals Ltd UK who have praised a recent Sunderland graduate for her work in the field.
Former MA Pharmacy student Katherine Stultz worked with Senior Lecturer Dr Amal Ali Elkordy on the research.
Dr Elkordy said: “One of the challenges for scientists in the development of drugs is patient compliance.
“Importantly, for patients who find difficulty in swallowing conventional tablets or using inhalers, fast disintegrating tablets may be a good solution to deliver drugs through the mouth effectively.”
As part of her final year project, Katherine worked with Dr Elkordy on developing the disintegrating tablets that retain all the important properties whilst dissolving quickly.
Katherine said: “While there are disintegrating tablets already out there. My aim was to improve on these – essentially to optimise how they worked.”
The research saw Katherine awarded a prize as one of the finalists in the MGR Award competition run by Mylan Pharmaceuticals Ltd UK. The graduate, who this summer starts a job as a pre-register pharmacist at James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, was then given the opportunity to present her work at the company’s Sandwich site in Kent.
Dr Amal Ali Elkordy, Reader in pharmaceutics at the University, said: "The project research on tablets in general and fast disintegrating tablets specifically is important because tablets are the most convenient dosage forms from a patient point of view for easy administration and compliance and from an industrial perspective for cost effectiveness and economic production."
Dr. Jane Burrows, from the MGR Award Team, said: "Mylan created the Mylan Global Respiratory Award to recognise scientific excellence in final year life sciences undergraduates. As a global pharmaceutical company whose mission is to provide the world's 7 billion people access to high quality medicine, it's important that we acknowledge the value of those who will go on to become part of the future within our industry and for some, the future of Mylan.”
The research will be continued at the University of Sunderland this year by another pharmacy undergraduate.