Written in a bit of a rush

One of the most perspicacious aspects of TV Cream’s 10-year history has been its relationship with the Daily Mail.

Back in the autumn of 2002, just three days before the site’s 5th anniversary, a journalist employed by the Mail On Sunday contacted Creamguide directly by email. The person in question was Matthew Knowles, a reasonably high-profile and experienced reporter, then tipped as a rising star within the Mail empire.

Indeed, earlier that year at the prestigious Scottish Press Awards, Mr Knowles had been privileged to scoop a notable number of gongs including ‘Journalist Of The Year’, ‘Reporter Of The Year’ and ‘Scoop Of The Year’ for a story about Henry McLeish, the former Scottish First Minister.

A man of high standing and stern moral scruples, you’d think. But then, on Wednesday 28th August 2002, he sent this message to TV Cream Towers:

“Answer your moby cock piece”

What could have prompted such a rash outburst? What did the man seek to imply? Might the email have been written, to coin a phrase, in a bit of a rush?

As it turned out, this was but an augary and although the man never contacted TV Cream again (and seems to have since disappeared off the face of the planet, or at least the face of the press) Associated Newspapers was to tangle with the site in a far more direct manner later that year.

The Daily Mail had already alerted the world to its knowledge of TV Cream when, a short while into the site’s existence, it received the dubious honour of being named as one of the Mail’s ’10 Of The Best Websites’.

An article dated 14th December 1999 not only placed TV Cream at number one in the chart but also described the site as: “The best place to find the TV shows of yesteryear.” The piece was bylined Elizabeth Stout – someone else who seems to have vanished with the passing of time.

A different kind of flattery, however, surfaced in late October 2002 when the Mail ran an article entitled ‘Blue Peter Saints And Sinners’. The piece bore a number of striking similarities with TV Cream’s own guide to BP presenters; so many, in fact, as to transcend similarity and approach the plateau of blatant carbon copy. A few examples:

TV Cream’s Blue Peter Special Assignment
“Peter Purves: Quieter, more cerebral, supply teacher-like foil for action man Noakes.”
THE DAILY MAIL, 25/10/02
“Peter Purves: Quiet, more cerebral, supply-teacher-like foil for action man John Noakes.”

TV Cream’s Blue Peter Special Assignment
“Sarah Greene: Arrived at the ‘Peter chubby-cheeked and brunette, fled as a blonde saucepot to Saturday Superstore.”
THE DAILY MAIL, 25/10/02
“Sarah Greene: Arrived a chubby-cheeked brunette, fled as a blonde saucepot to Saturday Superstore.”

TV Cream’s Blue Peter Special Assignment
“Tina Heath: Made television history by having an ultrasound scan of her unborn child (named Jemma, as it happens) live on the programme. Then left before the breastfeeding could be featured.”
THE DAILY MAIL, 25/10/02
“Tina Heath: Became pregnant almost as soon as she arrived and made TV history by having an ultrasound scan of her unborn child live on the programme. Then left before the breastfeeding could be featured.”

TV Cream’s Blue Peter Special Assignment
“Matt Baker: Starring role in 2001’s absurd Blue Peter Quest, wherein he had to lip-synch in drag to Blondie and look at Peter Duncan’s arse, confirmed his coronation.”
THE DAILY MAIL, 25/10/02
“Matt Baker: Most memorable moment – lip-synching in drag to a Blondie track on 2001’s Blue Peter Quest.”

TV Cream’s Blue Peter Special Assignment
“Simon Groom: Outdoors type Groom spent many of his ‘Peter days showing viewers around his parents’ Derbyshire farm, accompanied by the imaginatively-named golden retriever, Goldie.”
THE DAILY MAIL, 25/10/02
“Simon Groom: Spent much of the time showing viewers around his parents’ farm, accompanied by the imaginatively-named golden retriever, Goldie.”

The case was taken up by none other than Matthew Norman of the Guardian, who, in his column on Wednesday 30th October, warned the Mail that TV Crean was “about to sue you for plagiarism” (this never happened). He continued by instructing the Mail’s editor, Paul Dacre, to “have a really good, long holiday on a Mauritian beach, come back refreshed, and for God’s sake, man, get a grip” (ditto).

Suffice to say much amusement was derived from the Mail’s lamentable excuses that the article was “written in a bit of rush”, that “there isn’t any rule against copying stuff off a website, is there?”, and, best of all, “What’s TV Cream?”

Inevitably the whole thing came to nothing, and despite some nice support from those capricious veterans over at Need To Know, the “dispute” fizzled out chiefly because, well, nobody really knew what to do next. Although there was a postcript of sorts.

Still, it would’ve been great taking the Mail to court, not least as it would’ve afforded TV Cream the possibility of calling character witnesses such as Fred Harris, Richard Stilgoe and Marian Foster.

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One Response to Written in a bit of a rush

  1. Mark X says:

    The Mail seem to have been pretty notorious for stealing content from websites in the past, as these links show:

    http://www.mil-millington.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/saga.htm
    http://mil.theweekly.co.uk/mil_support/index.cgi

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