Category Archives: Social Media

A Bastard Invasion


Following on from what must have been a well received edit of the its pilot episode, the execs at FX Networks (link does not work outside the US) have commissioned a 10 episode first season of The Bastard Executioner.

The TV series, from the team that created and produced the Sons of Anarchy (SoA), is set in medieval Wales will be filmed in locations across Wales and specially created sets to bring the action to life.

The lead role appears to have been bestowed on Lee Jones, although despite his Welsh-sounding name hails from Australia.

Other notable cast members are Katey Sagal, Kurt Sutter and Timothy V. Murphy, who all played parts in SoA; and Stephen Moyer (True Blood) and Matthieu Charneau.

In amongst this lot is an abundance of Welsh acting talent, including Matthew Rhys (Brothers and Sisters, The Americans), who like Rhys Ifans, Michael Sheen and Ioan Grufydd, has demonstrated to the US TV and film makers that Wales is can produce international stars.

Its not just the acting that has brought Hollywood to the valleys. On the back of BBC Wales productions such as Doctor Who, Torchwood and Sherlock; a whole new and exciting media industry has grown in South Wales and is breeding make-up artists, special FX specialists, camera crew, and all the other many skill sets it takes to make a TV programme or feature film.

Also the support of the Welsh Government was instrumental in attracting investment such as that made by Pinewood Studios, who have also announced that the re-make of The Crow will be shot in the country.

This investment will surely be repaid once the high definition images of Welsh scenery will adorn cinema and TV screens across the world, and more people will want to visit this magical country.

#TBX, as The Bastard Executioner is referred to on social media, is not the first major oversees production filmed in Wales; but from my memory, this will be the first that will be set in Wales, filmed in Wales, and featuring a cast made of mainly Welsh talent.

The #TBX cast and crew are quite active on Twitter and it was great to see regular updates and photos from the set of the pilot.  There is also quite a large fanbase growing on social media creating quite a lot of buzz.  This has mainly risen from the millions of people who were addicted to SoA, and are looking forward to this new project from its creator Kurt Sutter.  The only frustration, is that the teasers and interviews that have been uploaded to YouTube by FX Networks are not available outside the US and Canada.

Sutter has already vocalised about his love of history and theology, so there is no doubt he will be true to Welsh mythology and folklore, to the point where his fictional storyline will allow. He has adopted the use of traditional medieval character names and has announced that the episode titles will be published in English and Welsh.

I for one am very excited about #TBX and the future of the Welsh media industry, together with a revitalisation of the Welsh Tourist industry.  I just have to hope that one of the UK broadcast companies pick this up and hopefully transmit to a similar schedule as the US.

A spot kick to savour

18 months ago I was privileged to enjoy an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life… I have not blogged on it until now, as it took place during one of the most challenging periods of my life.

At a time that my wife was waiting for her diagnosis for breast cancer to be confirmed, I won an online competition with Vauxhall to represent my country (Wales) in a penalty kick shoot-out against Scotland at half-time during a football FIFA World Cup Qualifier between the same nations.

The weather was pretty rough before and during the game, but fortunately it was OK at half-time… although the lush grass at the Cardiff City Stadium was rather moist, and we were not allowed to wear boots on the pitch.

Penalty Takers
Penalty Takers

Wales were trailing 1-0 at half-time to a James Morrison strike just before the half hour mark, so the Welsh penalty takers amongst us were aware that it was down to us to lift the spirits of the home supporters by delivering with our spot kicks.  This was not going to be made any easier by the rowdy, enthusiastic,  and slightly inebriated tartan army that always passionately follow their team through thick and thin.

As we geared ourselves towards the big event, our preparations were disrupted by a mischievous Scotland and Stoke City player, Charlie Adam, who was warming up during the half time interval; and decided to prematurely start the proceedings by firing a spot kick in the nets that were purposely setup on the halfway line.

Adam’s antics was (unfortunately) not enough to put off Gordon Sheach, who was first up for the Scottish contingent, and expertly dispatched their first penalty.  His celebration of a simultaneous jump and air punch was enthusiastically welcomed by the Scots in the crowd; and the fact that his kilt decided to safely react to the earth gravitational pull was welcomed by the vast majority of the Cardiff City Stadium.

Wales’ first penalty taker suffered a miss-kick and was easily saved by the guest goalkeeper who was drafted in from the Wales youth setup.  This meant that after the first round Wales were trailing 1-0.

Scotland’s second penalty was confidently put away to make the score 2-0.

Then it was my turn to either bask in glory or crumble in humiliation.  It was my intention, that if I scored my celebration would consist of putting my finger to my lips in the direction of the tartan army to quieten our noisy visitors…. but in a rush of blood, I did this before taking the penalty… which just added further pressure to the spot kick.  I picked the direction to which I was going to place the kick and was grateful that the keeper went the other way.

My Penalty

So I was the first Welshman on the night to score against the Scots to make it 2-1, and I hoped that would spur on the professionals to step up a gear after the break.

The Welsh could only hope that the Scots were unsuccessful with their last attempt to give us the opportunity to draw the competition.

Our hopes were realised as the third Scottish pen was saved.

Then the last spot kick of the competition was scored, despite the keeper getting fingertips to the strike, and it ended 2-2.

My signed Wales Shirt
My signed Wales Shirt

I have to thank Vauxhall for that opportunity.  The prize included watching the team train at The Vale of Glamorgan Hotel and Resort, which acted as the FAW training camp; Vauxhall goodies, tickets to the game, the penalty kick experience; a Wales training top; and a signed Wales shirt (which I have had framed).

What was even better, was 2 goals from the remarkable Gareth Bale in the last 10 minutes to win the game for Wales.  The first being a penalty, and the second a wonder-strike that will be remembered by everyone who had the privilege to see it.

I was able to record the action on my BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, which I have been able to edit and upload to YouTube.  The footage is a little shaky, partly down to nerves and partly down to the sharing of the tablet between us Welsh representatives.

I’ve decided to post this now as my wife’s cancer treatment has now successfully ended and is in remission, and this will allow me to document the events for future posterity.

The home straight…

A fantastic and worthwhile experience

When the opportunity presented itself to apply for I’m a Scientist Get me Out of Here, I was a bit apprehensive… don’t get me wrong, I saw it as an innovative way to promote Forensics21 and the NPIA as a whole; but I never saw myself as the appropriate candidate…. Luckily for me, my managers did.

The agency continually delivers excellent pieces of work for the police forces of England and Wales, even though its future is now limited, and has always endorsed initiatives that allow us to interact with the public and spread a positive message of crime prevention… so I was pleased to do something that would go some way to achieve this goal.

I did however underestimate what taking part would mean to me personally.  The organisers and moderators have been fantastically helpful, the children have been amazing with their variety of questions… but most of all, the other scientists have been incredible.  You start to get to know scientists from the other zones via Twitter and you develop quite a bond with the scientists within your own zone, especially within the chat environment.  You quickly forget that its a competition and help each other in getting the best answers to the questions that you can.

It then hits you on the second week, when the evictions start, what you have let yourself in for.  We were quite lucky on the Forensic Zone that we didn’t encounter a forced eviction until the Thursday.  This meant we could all take part in all of the scheduled chats.

I have now learned that I am in the final two with Anthropologist Anna.  I feel absolutely honoured to be in this position, as it means that I have fulfilled in my mission to engage with the children, so winning would just be a bonus now.

Good luck to all the remaining scientists for tomorrows finale!!

Also the organisers have started to accept registrations for future events, so I would thoroughly recommend that scientists from any discipline to get involved; learn new things about other subjects and yourself; and make new contacts and friends.  CLICK HERE FOR REGISTRATION DETAILS

They are also looking for new schools to get involved, so if you are a teacher or know of any who would like to take part in the event.. CLICK HERE FOR MORE DETAILS

One week… still in IAS… but I’m whacked

It has been just over a week since my last blog, and it has been the craziest week of my life….


I have only just moved home.  They say its one of the most stressful things that you ever do… and I tend to agree; but at least now I am starting to see the fruits of my labour… and the labour of all my friends and family who have pitched in.

I now have a room resembling an office that I can now feel comfortable in for working from home.  Working from home, on the occasions that I am home, is a privilege and a great opportunity for “getting things done”; but it helps if you have the right environment to achieve that… and now I’m there.  I just hope that it doesn’t turn out like the scene in Brewsters Millions where at the moment he has everything the way he wanted, it all has to get taken back… so I am going to fight for my job within the NPIA until there is nothing left to fight for (work wise that is).

I’m a Scientist…. but don’t get me out of here yet!

I'm a Scientist logo


The competition has now entered its second week, which means….. EVICTIONS!!
The first took place today, and I am mighty relieved to still be standing… even if it is on a technicality, as Shane has withdrawn. 
Good luck to Shane for the future… and good luck to Craig, Anna and Sue who are all still in the competition with me…. although I hope to stay in as long as I possibly can, as it is a fantastic social experiment, an excellent learning resource for school children…. and incredibly exciting and addictive for the scientists.
The questions are amazing… even if a lot of them are a bit left field.  You can view the static questions here:; but unfortunately you won’t be able to see what is asked in the live chats… unless you accessed the site as they are “live”:
One of the schools that are taking part are from Saltash in Cornwall.  I told one of the students that I was on Google Street View in Saltash when I was holidaying there.  Just to prove it, I am the one in the blue t-shirt in the foreground…
Me in Fore Street, Saltash
Me in Fore Street, Saltash
Another wedding anniversary… and wifey still hasn’t dumped me.. Thats progress…
Well in fact… this is progress….
Take That... Cardiff
Take That... Cardiff
It has become an anniversary tradition that Take That tours near us on the week of our anniversary…. its very kind of them to organise it that way.
On our first anniversary they were performing at The City of Manchester Stadium,and they had only just got back together and were performing their first stadium gigs… so I pulled off the coup of the century and got the Take That boys (well all except for Howard) to sign an anniversary card for my wife, as it was our paper anniversary.  I haven’t yet reached those romantic heights in further years, but to get tickets to the concert is difficult enough… as you can see by the fact that we are sitting on the roof of The Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
The concert was fantastically staged as usual… but I don’t think lived up to The Circus Tour… don’t get me wrong, I thought it was excellent to get Robbie back in the band, but I thought the compromise of having him having a set whilst only paying lip service to some of Take Thats back catalogue was a little disappointing.
Myself and wifey were then able to dump kiddies on the in-laws on Saturday night to go out for a meal… if anyone is interested, we ate at  The place is under new management, who are very friendly and eager to please.  The food was of good quality and reasonably priced.
We then tried out one of our local pubs who had an Elvis impersonator on… not quite Take That… very cheesy… but a good night.

I had a very nice fathers day… and considering there will be no further additions to my brood, it was great to see all 5 of them in one day and at one time… the first time that has ever happened.

….And I have been working

I have been incredibly busy with work in the last week, discussing everything fingerprints, but mainly looking into fingerprint issues with the Protection of Freedoms Bill, which is making its way through parliament.

This Bill will have huge implications for fingerprint units in England and Wales, and we are trying to understand what they will be and look at ways to make it easier for forces to implement.

I visitedHarrogate last week and I am currently in a hotel room in Lichfield…

Lichfield Cathedral
Lichfield Cathedral

To make things a little more difficult, I have travelled on public transport so that I have been able to take part in the IAS Live Chats.

Travelling is an interesting and enjoyable part of the job, as I was able to take that lovely picture above… but we are about to trial new ways to conduct online meetings and reduce the need to stay away from home as often.  You have to love reducing bureaucracy!

Well thats all from me for now, but I hope to be telling you soon how well I have done in I’m a Scientist…

And they’re off!!

IAS Forensic Zone Logo
IAS Forensic Zone Logo

The first questions were posted to the Scientists taking part in “I’m a Scientist Get Me Out of Here” over the weekend.

Click here to take a look at what has been asked in the Forensic Zone.

The best thing about this competition is that there is no limit to what can be asked:

From the relevant… how can we know for sure that everyone’s fingerprints are unique? asked by spock11

To the thought provoking… What do tigers dream of, when they take a little tiger snooze? asked by predator

Thats what makes this type of event challenging, unpredicatable and exciting!

Tomorrow sees the first of the chat sessions.  The session will involve questions from Year 9 students from Woodkirk High School in Wakefield.

I have been to Wakefield on a number of occasions, as its the home to the Forensic Units of West Yorkshire Police, and I have quite a few friends over there.  West Yorkshire have a fantastic reputation, and the Head of their Fingerprint Bureau does a lot of work nationally and internationally.

Click here to read about West Yorkshire Police Fingerprint Bureau

Like a lot of police forces, they are going through restructuring due to budget constraints, and I hope that it turns out for the best for everyone who is affected.

Maybe some of the pupils involved in tomorrows chat will find themselves in West Yorkshires Police Forensic Labs in years to come as a result of “I’m a Scientist” 🙂

Forensics and Social Media

You know, you really don’t need a forensics team to get to the bottom of this. If you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you’d have invented Facebook. (The Social Network)

I finally got around to watching the movie “The Social Network” last week, and was very impressed with the film.

It emphasized to me the power of the internet to create connections, to link information and to promote ideas…. but it is also scary…

With Great Power comes Great Responsibility! (Spiderman)

I am aware that by having my own blog and profiles on other social networking sites it provides me with an opportunity to highlight people, places, things, organisations, events that have or are still having influence in my life… but, it also means that I am leaving myself open for others to challenge my views, correct my mistakes and criticise my beliefs.

I am fine with this, as long as it doesn’t have any adverse effects on my family or professional life.

Nobody Puts Baby in the Corner! (Dirty Dancing)

I do believe that it is better to have a presence and a voice, than to hide away and allow the world to pass you by, and for other people to pass judgement on you without a form of redress.

This is why I promoted the use of Social Media to my bosses at Forensics21 in The NPIA.  As The NPIA already have twitter accounts @the_npia and the CEO Nick Gargan tweets as @ngargan_npia, I was already on a winner.

So my boss @joashworth agreed for myself and @j_purser to speak with the organisations Social Media Guru @nickkeane.

Following on from those discussions we have launched our Twitter Profile today:


Forensics within the NPIA also launched a new tool that shows how DNA has contributed to crime detection in force areas of England and Wales, and also gives visitors an indication of how many people from their locality are on the National DNA Database:

So using social media, The NPIA can now promote the great work the organisation carries out… promote the work of Forensics in Police Forces… and deliver a higher level of engagement and transparency.

I have also introduced facebook and twitter accounts for The Fingerprint Society to again spread the word about ITS aims and objectives.

Now with my involvement in I’m a Scientist Get Me Out of Here…it has opened my eyes to a new level of enngagement… a new audience… a fun social networking experience!

What for the future??? Who knows!