"Now on BBC1, it’s 5.35pm which means it’s time for…"

Monday 30th July 2007

…what exactly?

When Neighbours defects to Channel Five, just what kind of programme will inherit that all-important pre-news teatime berth? There’s been talk of Waterloo Road getting revamped as a daily soap. Revised repeats of River City have been discussed. One up-to-no-good rumour-monger even mooted the possibility of Phil Redmond launching a new teen drama in the slot, which is just too hideous to contemplate.

No, a proposition of a far more recognisable, familiar feel is called for. And assuming there’s the money for something other than repeats of The Flintstones, a number of alternatives suggest themselves:

1) GOOD FRIENDS

A bright and breezy soap set in London’s Australian ex-pat community, where a friendly wave of the hand helps to make the perfect blend of neighbourliness, and where people are there for one and another. Leading a star cast of more than a few familiar faces is Alan Dale, who plays the gruff patriach of a sprawling family clan comprising Stefan Dennis, Anne Scott-Pendlebury, Natalie Imbruglia, Jason Donovan, Mark Little, Dannii Minogue, Kylie Flinker, Melissa Bell, Kristian Schmid and Peta Brady, with special guest appearances by Alan Fletcher and Terence Donovan, and a very special guest appearance by Norman Coburn.

2) ROLF HARRIS CARTOON TIME

Rolf uncaps his fat marker pens once again to celebrate the finest animation of the last 100 years – now including such contemporary classics as Ren and Stimpy, Beavis and Butthead, Capitol Critters and Watch My Chops. All finished drawings will be donated to local hospitals.

3) HOLBY HIGH

The ups and downs of life at a Bristol comprehensive, where having fun and struggling to grow up are two subjects very much on the curriculum. An unusually high accident rate means the school bears witness to more than a few visits from staff of the local accident and emergency department – but that’s OK, because as luck would have it, most of them send their kids to Holby High anyway!

4) MASTERTEAM 2.0

Angela Rippon is back to front a new nationwide hunt for the country’s finest amateur quizmasters – only this time, she’s looking to tap the cream of the UK’s interactive community. Teams comprising members of fan websites, mailing lists and discussion groups will join Angela in the studio to battle their way through the infamous pot pourri round (“After all this time, I *still* don’t know what we’re going to get!” quips Angela), while viewers at home will be able to join in via the red button whenever they hear the cry “Let’s play – or press!”

5) THE ONE SHOW EXTRA

Dominic Wood and Claudia Winkleman host a fast and furious son of The One Show, packed with live music, special guests, on-the-spot reports and lots and lots of surprises. There’ll be recipes, TV previews, real life stories from around the country and chat with all your favourite BBC faces…plus Adrian Chiles popping in from time to time to help out. Your essential teatime appetiser.


Mike Reid RIP

Sunday 29th July 2007

Giving it the lobster no more.


Paddy Haycocks rides again

Saturday 28th July 2007

The spirit of Channel 4’s late 80s/early 90s on-the-hoof marvel As It Happens has been reborn in the unlikely guise of BBC News 24’s flood coverage.

The channel’s usual problem of how to fill up endless news coverage when there’s no news has been solved, temporarily at least, thanks to its battery of reporter-presenters making the most of their undignified and damp surroundings with a portable microphone and cameras with the longest leads in the world.

Day after day they have been on air just, well, wandering aimlessly. They go wherever their feet take them. The camera dutifully follows. The anchors back in the studio let them get on with it. And viewers get to see whatever, well, happens.

Down streets, in and out of shops, along pavements, through fields – it just goes on and on and on. Whomever gets in their way they stop and interview. If someone drifts by in the background on a dinghy they turn and hail them for a chat.

They pop into Tesco to see if bottled water is still on sale. They knock on people’s front doors to have a peek at the debris. And if anything goes wrong, if someone falls over, or someone swears, or someone doesn’t want to have a microphone shoved into their face and asked ‘how are you feeling’ when it’s quite fucking obvious to the entire world, It Doesn’t Matter. For this is a Crisis. And when a Crisis happens, things inevitably go wrong, but it’s forgivable, because it’s all part of The Blitz Spirit, and a sign that Britain Is Pulling Together.

As It Happens was a fantastic idea, both in its low-key daytime incarnation (Paddy strolling round central London talking to tourists, hawkers and street urchins) and its Friday night grown-up version (Andy Kershaw and Pete McCarthy beamed live from foreign cities being forever stood up by local contacts and harangued by passing malcontents).

It’s utterly bizarre that its low-cost public-as-celebrities unscripted unpredictable content is not back in Channel 4’s schedules. For one thing it’d be cheaper than paying for repeats of How Clean Is Your House and A Place In the Sun.

Besides, a sane mind can only take so much of Chris Eakin in galoshes or Rajesh Mirchandani standing in the deepest puddle he can find. Send Paddy Haycocks to Tewkesbury – NOW!


Photo clippage #22

Wednesday 25th July 2007

It’s May 1988, and the Beeb decide to publicise their new computerised forward-looking high-tech weather maps…by dressing their forecasters up in the most antiquated garb in the costume department.


The Macca video jukebox: part eight

Monday 23rd July 2007

SONG:
NO MORE LONELY NIGHTS

DEFINITION:
Paul goes to Hollywood. Well, Cricklewood.

THINGS TO KNOW:
a) This was the smash hit single to promote the smash flop film Give My Regards To Broad Street, both of which were released in 1984.
b) David Gilmour from Pink Floyd is on squealing lead guitar duties.
c) An alternate version, bravely subtitled ‘Special Dance Mix’, was also released and can be heard, should you last that long, over the film’s end credits.

THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR:
a) The prelude, with Paul apparently in the guise of a cinema projectionist, busy making a mug of tea and trying to place a telephone call. Suddenly a cat scuttles up a nearby staircase and, whistling a strangely familiar tune, our hero follows.
b) A classic Macca head wobble essayed on the very first line.
c) The many clips from Give My Regards To Broad Street, which are probably more entertaining than the film itself. Heaven knows what’s actually going on here, but there’s some business involving Macca as a Victorian gentleman trying to rescue Ringo and Linda from sailing over a waterfall before being hunted through the smoky streets by a sinister Moriarty figure. Then there’s a New Romantic electro-discotheque sequence. There’s also a ballroom dancing display being invaded by some 1950s rockabillies, Paul in a taxi being watched by ladies of the night, and a tiny bit of sampled dialogue (“A box” “A big blue one”) which presumably is central to the film’s original plot.
d) Our man on the roof watching London alternately light up and blackout.
e) Paul trilling his way through the chorus being accompanied by a massive fireworks display.
f) The fantastic giant neon sign which first spells out ROAD TREE before cunningly expanding to declare BROAD STREET.

VERDICT: Folly. And another. And another.


New New Popmaster

Friday 20th July 2007

You can’t keep a good phone-in down.

“We’re going to bring Popmaster back,” announced Ken Bruce on air this morning. “We’re not going to have members of the public taking part in it. Instead we’re going to have BBC staff taking part in it. Explain that to me. But we’re allowed to do that. No prizes and you may not phone in for it.”

The BBC staff apparently turned out to be none other than Jeremy Vine and Lynn Bowles. History fails to record how each of them did and who won, or rather who didn’t win, the usual digital radio.

Here, though, is clearly an answer to the Beeb’s current predicament. Hearing Steve Wright being forced to take part in rather than merely host his misnamed Big Quiz would be almost worth sitting through a whole half hour of not-non-stop oldies. Almost.


Photo clippage #21

Thursday 19th July 2007

Can it really only be 10 not-long-enough years since Learner Driver From Hell Maureen Rees gave masterclasses in car maintenance as part of BBC1’s new daytime fixture The Really Useful Show presented by Tony Morris and Ruth Langsford?