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Television and radio programme reviews, trailers, highlights, twilights and cinema news. Also the neglected gems from years past.

Peter Firmin: remembering The Clangers, Bagpuss and their creator

peter-firmin bagpuss

 

Peter Firmin (1928-2018) co-created Bagpuss, The Clangers, Basil Brush, Ivor the Engine, Pogles Wood and Noggin the Nog. You might not know the man, but every Briton who grew up in the 1970s knows his work. In 1999, Bagpuss was voted the most popular BBC children’s programme ever made.

It was a family affair. Mr Firmin’s wife Joan made Bagpuss’ paws and knitted the original Clangers. Their daughter Emily played Bagpuss’ owner, who places the saggy old cloth cat in her shop window.  The shop doesn’t sell anything. Each week Emily brings Bagpuss objects to mend and repair. Bagpuss wakes up, explores the new find with his pals and then after so much talk and hard looking drifts back to sleep.

Only 13 episodes were ever made. Each one if wonderful.

 

 

The Clangers are aliens living on small blue planet. They live in caves protected by saucepan lids – the noise of the lids gives the Clangers their name.

As for Mr Firmin:

Born in Harwich in 1928, he trained at the Colchester School of Art and, after a period of National Service in the Navy, he went on to attend the Central School of Art and Design. it was while teaching there that he met Mr Postgate with whom he formed Smallfilms.

In 2016, in an interview with the BBC at the unveiling of an exhibition of his work, Mr Firmin said of his relationship with Mr Postgate: “He wrote and imagined things and I brought them to life as pictures.”

He said: “We sometimes disagreed, but generally we agreed in the end as we had the same sort of taste and, also, we both rather liked the idea of gentle stories where there was no aggression really and everyone was rather happy, gentle and content.”

Mr Firmin was no fan of computer generated imagery. “I hate CGI faces on humans because you look in the eyes and there’s nothing there. There’s no soul.”

In 1974, his knitted Clangers with their black button eyes held an election. The General Election was taking place in the UK and far, far away The Clangers were asking you to Vote Froglet.

The BFI:

On a small blue planet far away, it’s polling day for the Clangers! Coinciding with 1974’s general election, this episode sees narrator Oliver Postgate trying to persuade the ever-popular woolly creatures of the merits of party politics. But the Clangers aren’t taken with the prospect of a society ruled by one group – even though the Soup Dragon stands for election on a ‘free soup for all’ ticket.

Oliver Postgate provides the voice of the narrator who, uniquely in this episode, engages in conversation with the Clangers. Their responses were adapted from the written script and played on swannee whistles by Stephen Sylvester and Oliver Postgate, as usual, while the music was composed by Vernon Elliott. This was the final in the original series of The Clangers which ran for 27 episodes from 1969-74.

 

Posted: 2nd, July 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, TV & Radio | Comment


Shop Smart: Save Money the Hampstead and King Alfred’s School way

Fiona Phillips and Gaby Roslin are plugging a new Channel 5 TV show. Called Shop Smart: Save Money, “their new TV show that encourages savvy shopping”, says the Daily Mail. Both presenters are keen to show how they learnt the value of a coupon and special offer from periods of poverty and periods of “financial issues”. “When I was a student, I had £5 a week to live off,” says Roslin.

Even now, she says she still can’t scatter the cash. ‘I have bills to pay like everyone else. Mortgage, gas, electricity, water, car. We all do.’

Prescient stuff. Says Roslin: “My parents weren’t well off and I was brought up thriftily.”

In 2010, she told the Independent:

From the age of three, all I wanted to be was on television. My dad was a Radio 4 newsreader. He was a friend of Valerie Singleton and I used to go to Television Centre to watch Blue Peter being broadcast…

I got into King Alfred’s, a co-ed, progressive school in Hampstead.

King Alfred School is fee paying. It’s located in one of the country’s most expensive places to buy a home. The current fees t the school are:

Reception, Years 1 + 2 (4 – 6 years):  £ 5,177 per term
Years 3 – 6 (7 – 10 years): £ 5,965 per term
Upper School (11 – 18 years): £ 6,241 per term

The Sun says: “Gaby Roslin is well-placed to give advice on how to get value for money.” Here’s a bit more about King Alfred’s:

You were not told who was top or bottom and you called teachers by their first names. At first, you didn’t have marks. I wasn’t very good at maths but they didn’t say: “Let’s drop it.” You discussed it with the teachers.

Cynics would call it the kind of school wealthy kids who don’t need to write CVs go to.

Posted: 9th, June 2018 | In: Celebrities, TV & Radio | Comment


The Last Line – an outstanding bit of British TV from 1981

In 1981 ATV went to the Wolverhampton Fiesta. Jacqueline was there. She was about to do something dangerous. John Swallow reports:

 

 

Spotter: @aflashbak and @CFBClips – two Twitter accounts well worth following

Posted: 4th, June 2018 | In: TV & Radio | Comment


‘Casual anti-semitism’ on the BBC Radio 4’s News Quiz

Ever listen to The News Quiz on BBC Radio 4? It’s the soundtrack to a Boden catalogue: knowing, safe and predictable; sold as edgy to ambulatory roadkill who book family yurts at Glastonbury and can conjugate Prosecco. It’s the tinkle of dinner party laughter that says, ‘Wouldn’t this be funny if it was funny.’ Today’s audio vanilla was a cracker, kicking off with guff about Trump, Israel, Iran and those pesky Jews. Once upon a time someone at the Beeb decided that Israel and ‘The Jews’ should always sit at the top of the news cycle. So here it was again. Tune in as someone called Jeremy Hardy ‘satirises’ all the safe targets before talking about Jews, you know those problematic “tailors” and “showbiz” types who give conspiracy theorists – enjoy the bit about the “miraculous” missiles – and the right-on, uniquely sensitive and knowing Left direction and cause.

 

 

 

Running through the hideous bilge lies the essential truth that mocking Israel and Jews is a sign of Jewish strength. There are no jokes on the religionists running Iran because they’re thugs who might smack you in the mouth. On the News Quiz, they only lampoon what they don’t fear.

Posted: 12th, May 2018 | In: News, TV & Radio | Comment


Artist accuses Netflix of Stranger Things stormcloud theft

stranger things cloud theft

Heavey’s Stranger Things cloud

 

Sean R. Heavey thought the Hellish cloud hanging over the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, looked familiar. The town, the setting for Netflix’s hit TV show Stranger Things, was in the shadow of what Heavey thinks looked like his artwork. And then things escalated when Heavey was alerted to a scene on spin-off show Beyond Stranger Things (episode 3) on Netflix. He says his concept art that was used by the Stranger Things production team.

 

stranger things cloud theft

A Netflix original?

 

He wrote to Netflix, who told him it was ought luck. He says:

“They are saying the only similarity that exists is the use of a similar cloud formation, that copyright law does not protect objects as they appear in nature, and that an artist can’t claim a monopoly over real-world public domain objects such as a cloud formation. The problem with that argument is that it’s not a similar cloud they use — it’s my cloud photo.”

Real world? We’re talking about conceptual art and a fictional TV show.

Heavey has called in the lawyers. But isn’t Netflix right: viewing and adapting different sources for inspiration and an original story is fair use? Is Heavey sues and wins, won’t the makers of ET, Poltergeist, The Goonies and any number of sci-fi books and comics form a line to the copyright courts, suing the derivative show for borrowing and using ideas?

Spotter: Boing Boing

Posted: 11th, May 2018 | In: News, TV & Radio | Comment


Eurovision bans ladders and pliers but not Cliff Richard

banned eurovision

 

The Eurovision Song Contest is the trashsy, tacky music show that the UK never wins. Organisers of this year’s show in Portugal have produced a list of forbidden items.

Now take it away, Cliff Richard:

 

 

Spotter: BBC

Posted: 26th, April 2018 | In: Strange But True, TV & Radio | Comment


Hank Azaria says sorry The Simpsons Abu is upsetting

Hank Azaria says he’s “willing to step aside” from voicing the character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon in TV’s The Simpsons.  Azaria is pressured by a Indian-American comic Hari Kondabolu (The Problem with Apu), who claims the Indian character who knows more about the USA than Homer Simpson (fat, yellow ignorant, child-throttling and lazy) is founded on racial stereotypes. Azaria says his “eyes have been opened” by the debate. No offence was intended. He thought it was a jokey show about a 2D family of yellow-faces and blue hair. But he now knows that The Simpsons is slice-of-life stuff.

 

azaria apu

Not a real Indian

 

Azaria, who also voices porcine Chief Wiggum (a snout-face, slow-witted copper), Comic Book Guy (a fat pedantic slob) and bartender Moe Szyslak (a cranky, wire-haired batchelor) could soon be out of work unless the show’s writers can shoehorn a part for a slim actor who wants to write his own lines.

Azaria goes on the record: “The idea that anyone young or old, past or present, being bullied based on Apu really makes me sad. It certainly was not my intention. I wanted to bring joy and laughter to people.”

He did. He has. He’s not the writer, though. And Azaria’s reaction to criticism explains why actors should be wary of rewriting their own parts. “I’ve given this a lot of thought, and as I say my eyes have been opened,” he continues. “I think the most important thing is to listen to Indian people and their experience with it. I really want to see Indian, South Asian writers in the writers room… including how [Apu] is voiced or not voiced. I’m perfectly willing and happy to step aside, or help transition it into something new. It not only makes sense, it just feels like the right thing to do to me.”

Hear that, Indians. Form a queue.

The Simpsons has been dying on its feet for years.  As Lisa Simpson puts it in reply to this pathetic furore: “Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?” The camera then pans to a photo of Apu.

(Bart Simpson has been 8 for years – which is both weird and perverted!)

Posted: 25th, April 2018 | In: Celebrities, News, TV & Radio | Comment


Banning Russia Today would be as ridiculous as the bilge it broadcasts

Like many of you, I was disappointed when in 2012 Ofcom banned the Iranian state’s English-language mouthpiece Press TV. Ofcom, the broadcasting regulator, revoked its licence for breaching the Communications Act, for running its editorial oversight from Tehran, a habit that contravened the rules. “Broadcasting rules require that a licence is held by the person who is in general control of the TV service: that is, the person that chooses the programmes to be shown in the service and organises the programme schedule,” Ofcom said. Press TV could run editorial form the UK or broadcast from Iran. “Ofcom gave Press TV the opportunity to apply to have its operations in Tehran correctly licensed by Ofcom and Ofcom offered to assist it to do so. Press TV was given the opportunity to make representations on Ofcom’s ‘minded to revoke’ letter”. Press TV has failed to make the necessary application and Ofcom has therefore revoked Press TV’s licence to broadcast in the UK.”

A few British journalists and politicians – George Galloway, Yvonne Ridley, Ken Livingstone, Lauren Booth and Jeremy Corbyn – were all familiar faces on Press TV. The Guardian says Corbyn “presented a call-in programme on Press TV, a propaganda channel of the Iranian government which was banned by Ofcom and which regularly hosts Holocaust deniers.”

Nick Cohen added in The Spectator:

By hosting interviews, Corbyn gives the propaganda the ‘credibility’ of a Western politician. It’s fascinating to hear Iranian democracy campaigner Maziar Bahari’s own thoughts on Corbyn, who he describes as ‘a useful idiot’, and goes on to say:

People who present programmes for Press TV and get paid for it should be really ashamed of themselves — especially if they call themselves liberals and people who are interested in human rights.

The Iranian regime executes gay people, democracy activists, Kurds, and orders the rape of female prisoners. But Corbyn is happy to take their money and aid their propaganda campaign. Watch the end of this clip as Jeremy hosts a caller who describes the BBC as having hosted ‘Zionist liars’.

A few highlights:

 

 

And:

 

Corbyn mural east london

Corbyn and ‘Yvonne Ridley/ – that one form Press TV? – both like the mural that Labour now says is deeply anti-Semitic.

 

Business Insider noted:

Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn accepted up to £20,000 (about $27,000) for appearances on the Iranian state broadcast network Press TV — a channel that was banned in the UK for its part in filming the detention and torture of an Iranian journalist…

Corbyn’s final Press TV appearance was six months after the network had its broadcasting license revoked by Ofcom for airing a forced confession by Newsweek journalist Maziar Bahari. Ofcom is the government’s TV regulatory body which sets rules for UK broadcasters. Bahari told Business Insider that while he was detained by Iranian authorities he was tortured and threatened with execution before he agreed to read out a pre-agreed script on Iranian television, filmed by Press TV…

Press TV is part of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s tightly controlled broadcasting machinery. Its director is appointed by Iran’s Supreme Leader — the state’s chief religious and political authority – which means that its output is often biased in favour of strict establishment ideology.

During the period between the year of Corbyn’s first appearance and his last, for example, Iran hanged at least 1,314 people, according to Amnesty International. It is a place where the rights of women, LGBT people, and religious and ethnic minorities are harshly curtailed. In 2011, the year of Corbyn’s third appearance, three Iranian men were executed for homosexuality. An Amnesty International report released last year said that Sunni Muslims and Kurdish political prisoners have been executed for bringing “corruption” to the world.

Press TV’s newsroom director, Hamid Emadi, replied:

“Press TV believes that Ofcom is the media tool of the British government – the same government that sent troops to Iraq and Afghanistan to participate in the killing of innocent civilians. The British government and Ofcom will not be able to silence Press TV’s voice in the UK.”

But it did.

And now the no less monocular Russian Today (RT) is in the firing line. And that too is a shame. If we want to see the bias, disinformation, conspiracy theories, barbs, slurs and propaganda broadcast by regressive foreign regimes, Press TV and the Kremlin-fed Russia Today are useful. Its presence makes us thankful for our freedoms in which a plural media let’s use see more not less.

But some want it banned.

Labour MP Stephen Doughty opined: “On Russia Today, can I urge the Prime Minister to speak with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to look at reviewing Russia Today’s broadcasting licence, and to speak to the House authorities about blocking their broadcasts in this building itself. Why should we be watching their propaganda in this Parliament?” Shadow chancellor John McDonnell says RT, at times, “goes beyond objective journalism”.

Ofcom has RT in its crosshairs. There are seven investigations into whether the channel breached impartiality rules since the Salisbury nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia that left both in a critical condition in hospital. RT says the British did it. RT says the story is “woven with lies”. So what? If RT is your single source for news, and one you see as operating at the vanguard of truth, you should loosen the elastic on your tinfoil hat.

The argument that Russia poses a unique threat to our way of life through its obvious bullshit and clandestine social media activities gives the country and its broadcaster too much credit. Banning RT and its laughable attempts to troll the West would only limit our world view. We know what nonsense Russia pumps out because we can see it first hand. It’s ridiculous stuff. Don’t ban it – that’s the kind of thing Putin and his goons do. Just do what most of us now do: ignore it.

Posted: 20th, April 2018 | In: News, TV & Radio | Comment


Dale Winton RIP

Dale Winton (born 22 May 1955 )has died at the age of 62. The presenter of daytime telly’s Supermarket Sweep and later the National Lottery has checked out.

 

dale winton died

 

Dale Winton started out as a  DJ in London club circuit. That was followed by a stint at United Biscuits Industrial Radio Station, where he worked on programmes broadcast in factories. Winton went to work at Nottingham’s Radio Trent, hosting the morning show, then to Radio Danube and Radio Chiltern.

In 1986, Dale Winton joined BBC Bristol, where he presented Pet Watch (BBC One), and CTVC (1987). then it was on to Beacon Radio in Wolverhampton, Network 7′ for Channel 4, Home Today on ITV and lots of outings on satellite telly.

 

But Supermarket Sweep made him. Here’s the pilot episode – it really was fun:

 

Posted: 18th, April 2018 | In: Celebrities, TV & Radio | Comment


Andrew Neil explains anti-Semitism to the uneducated and Corbyn’s Labour

Andrew Neil presents must-see TV. Brilliant work by @afneil and @bbcthisweek in explaining what anti-Semitism is to the uneducated, and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters who have difficulty spotting it:

 

 

Mireille Knoll was found dead inside her Paris flat. Police think she was killed for being a Jew. The killer then her home set alight. French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, opines:  “It reminds us of the fundamental and permanent side of this battle” against antisemitism.

On the same day Ms Knoll was killed, Islamists murdered Arnaud Beltrame, a 44-year-old police officer. He was a true hero.

A year before Knoll’s slaying, Sarah Halimi, a retired Orthodox doctor and kindergarten teacher, was killed in her Paris apartment, her body then hurled out a window. In 2012, three children and a teacher were murdered in an attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse. In 2006, Ilan Halimi, a 23-year-old cellphone salesman, was tortured by gang members who assumed his middle-class parents could pay a hefty ransom because they were Jewish. Halimi’s charred body was found by the side of a road three weeks after his abduction.

The oldest story is back. The Jew – the ‘rich’, ‘powerful’, uniquely barbaric and deserving Jew – is seen as fair game. Don’t yield to anti-Semitism. I’ve been confronted with it recently – things I never thought I would have said to me, and threats made to me. Jew bating is normalised. It’s unnerving.

Posted: 30th, March 2018 | In: News, TV & Radio | Comment


RIP Jim Bowen: When Gameshow TV Hit The Bullseye

Jim Bowen RIP Bullseye

 

So it’s farewell to Jim Bowen, my Bullseye Tumblr muse. He was the engine of that show, propping up hours of awkward banter with shy contestants like Colin the carpet tufter from Dridlington (my favourite ever contestant name town and occupation combo) shuffling in their seats, eyes down. They had only come to win a dinner service, maybe a luggage set, they didn’t want all this razzle dazzle.  He chatted to them about their home town, their family, their job, and would valiantly press on whenever the banter couldn’t overcome the nerves and didn’t land, as it once didn’t with a shopkeeper from Diss who took umbrage at Jim saying he had DISS-satisfied customers. The man disagreed (DISSagreed!) Jim explained what he meant. “I know what you meant,” he muttered irritably; right, on with the show!

 

 

Jim really came into his own during the quiz portion of the show, routinely asking anyone who responded to a question with a self doubting tone “are you asking me or telling me?” They would confirm that they were indeed telling him and he was duly appeased. Except for one time, when a woman threw him by saying “I’m asking you”. He paused and in a low sombre voice said “I’d prefer it if you’d tell me”.

He wasn’t very consistent bless him, oscillating between violently and unnecessarily shushing the always silent audience whilst the contestants considered their answer and then occasionally jabbering all over their thinking time. My favourite such occasion was when he asked a woman about a cathedral that had burned down “…which cathedral was it?…it was a cathedral…but…but it’s got another name for a cathedral” MOOOOOOOO. Thanks for that Jim.

 

 

Another classic was when he spent a man’s thinking time telling him he looked like Rumpole of the Bailey. The man looked annoyed at this comparison and then came Bully’s roar which annoyed him further. Afterwards Jim apologised to the glowering contestant for offending him but maintained that he did look like him.

 

 

That man should count himself lucky that at least he didn’t get the I’m surprised you didn’t know that” treatment on a question about STDs.

 

 

The quiz section led to everyone’s favourite part of the night; the famed prize board. Where Jim would get to announce such bizarre prize hauls as “pound puppies and fine wines” (GAMBLE!) and physically drag people to what they had won and also to what they hadn’t won. Like when he pushed two unhappy contestants up onto a beach set and made them sit unhappily in cane chairs so they could watch footage of a holiday they had failed to obtain, having lost all of their other prizes in the process. But they had a good day and that is all that matters. Plus you got a tankard win or lose.

I will leave you with a clip of Jim being serenaded by some very 1980s men for far too long. His face in the middle is wonderful.

 

 

Thank you Mr Bowen for all of the awkward moments, the great chat, the deliberately bad jokes, and for a show that I always find gives me the biggest of hugs whenever I watch it.

James Bowen (born Peter Williams; 20 August 1937 – 14 March 2018).

Posted: 15th, March 2018 | In: Celebrities, News, TV & Radio | Comment


Wax your pay gap: Love Island mating pairs are not all equal

Love Island finalist Olivia Attwood claims the reality TV mating show does not secure all would-be breeding pairs the same level of income. She’s part of a story that female stars were “reportedly offered less than their male counterparts for the same work after leaving the show”. Yeah, different human beings earn different amounts of money on account of their popularity, skills and reaction to limelight. WTF! It’s the ‘gender pay gap’, dummy. And no, it’s not something you can wax.

The women and men who participated in the reality television show, in which single contestants are sent to an island and instructed to couple up and find love, were given a variety of employment opportunities with outside companies after the programme ended.

Two went to work as sub-title writers for ITVBe, one became the German chancellor and another scored a job testing NHS  orthopaedic treatments on a pro-celebrity ice dancing show.

Although ITV offers an equal prize for winning the show, regardless of gender, stars have allegedly found that other companies they have worked with offered women less money.

Work like…

The jobs on offer included nightclub appearances, paid sponsorships on social media, media appearances and partnerships with brands. Ms Attwood claimed that women were offered less money for these roles than the men who participated in the reality television show.

Might it be that the punters would pay more to see the boys than the girls?

Spotter: Telegraph

 

Posted: 7th, February 2018 | In: Celebrities, Money, TV & Radio | Comment


How they do the weather on Sky News (video)

And now on Sky News, the weather….

sky news weather funny

Spotter: AlreadyTaken74

Posted: 4th, February 2018 | In: Strange But True, TV & Radio | Comment


Well-paid BBC women are not thick as mince Grid Girl women

Spot the differences between the “BBC women on the march” for equal pay and ‘Grid Girls’ women being told they can’t work at Formula One events. Clue: age and class.

First up, the women who know what’s best for themselves and all women. The women taking a stand for equal rights, more money, opportunity and the sisterhood:

 

 

The women told they don’t know what’s best for themselves and who don’t know their own minds, being presumably too thick and infected by misogyny to earn an honest living of their choosing. Thankfully, more intelligent and higher ranking women are here to lend these losers a steer.

 

pit babes grid babes bbc sexism pay pit babes grid babes bbc sexism pay pit babes grid babes bbc sexism pay

 

And then this, in which the female expert in all things female schools two grown women no longer working the darts circuit in the right and wrong way to dress, earn money and conduct themselves. (Neither group is from the 70s – that’s the 1970s for the ‘babes’ and the 1870s for the bluestocking.)

 

Posted: 1st, February 2018 | In: Broadsheets, News, Sports, Tabloids, TV & Radio | Comment


What BBC gender pay gap? Gracie and Sopel are just different people

Is it about equal pay or equal recognition? And do BBC staff do comparable jobs? What price reputation, on-screen charisma, popularity and individuality? Or is it a simple fact that you need a knob to earn the top whack at the BBC?

Former BBC China editor Carrie Gracie was giving evidence to the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee yesterday. She was angry and upset to learn that the BBC’s male Middle East and North America editors earned “at least 50% more” than their two female counterparts – the women taking home around £100,000 a year less. She left her job and is to work back in the BBC newsroom. Gracie, 55, has been at the BBC for over 30 years.

“We’re not in the business of producing toothpaste or tyres at the BBC,” she said. “Our business is truth. We can’t operate without the truth. If we’re not prepared to look at ourselves honestly, how can we be trusted to look at anything else in reporting honestly?”

Adding: “I could leave the BBC tomorrow and get a better paid job. I don’t want to leave it in this state. It is in deep trouble and we need to sort it out and I need to be there alongside the other great BBC women, helping the BBC to sort it out.”

Always interested when well-paid people at the Beeb talk about how much more they can earn elsewhere. The question is always: where? Working at the BBC for big bucks is not a sacrifice.

She then added.

“I do not want any more money, that is not what it’s about. This will not resolve my problem. My problem will be resolved by an acknowledgment that my work was of equal value to the men I served alongside as an international editor. An apology would be nice….

“One of the things that’s made me sad is the tendency for this to turn into a comparison between me and the North America editor, and me and the Middle East editor.”

But don’t we have to compare the jobs to work out how underpaid she was? Do we consider the jobs of China editor and North America editor the same?

 

 

The BBC offers some guidance:

BBC head of news Fran Unsworth said that when Gracie was appointed as China editor, her salary was actually higher than that of the Middle East and North America editors.

“At the time that we set Carrie’s pay in that role, there was no issue around gender at all,” she said.

However, after Gracie’s appointment, Jon Sopel was hired to be the new North America editor. “Jon Sopel came with a different pay history,” she said.

“He had been a BBC One presenter, he had been a presenter on World News. He was a former political editor of the News Channel. He was a former Paris correspondent. And he had accumulated a much higher salary than Carrie was on at the time as a presenter of the News Channel. And we did not cut his pay in asking him to go to North America.”

The North America editor was on air “twice as much in peak time – and that is at a busy time in the China story”, she explained.

She added: “It’s a different job, the China job. It’s a more features-based agenda, it’s not on the relentless treadmill that something like the North America editor’s job is.”

Lord Hall [BBC boss Tony Hall] added it was “a mistake not to review Carrie Gracie’s pay when the new North America editor was put in place”.

The gender pay gap wasn’t news until the BBC was forced to publish a list of its best earners. It was only then that we saw that US editor, Jon Sopel, and the Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen, were earning a lot more than Gracie and Katya Adler, the Europe editor. Sopel and Bowen are familiar faces on the magic box. Adler would be hard to identify in a crowd of two women, and until Gracie became news, relatively few viewers would have known her name and face. In panic mode, after Gracie complained and a lengthy review, the BBC offered her a lump of backpay and assured her that the oversight had nothing to do with gender pay discrimination.

“I didn’t want the money,” she said. “I wanted robust data for people’s different salary levels. I wanted acknowledgment that my work was as good as my male colleagues.” The BBC told after decades at the corporation her work was in “development”. That’s absurd.

But she was well paid. And the question as to whether she was working at the same level as the more recognisable Sopel and Bowen is pertinent. Comparrisons do need to be made.

Posted: 1st, February 2018 | In: Money, News, TV & Radio | Comment


Unemployment now! Women rejoice as all F1 babes are sacked

F1 will no longer feature female models – Grid Girls – in the pits. Women won’t be in the cars, either. That tradition stays. Says Sean Bratches, managing director of commercial operations:

“While the practice of employing grid girls has been a staple of Formula 1 grands prix for decades, we feel this custom does not resonate with our brand values and clearly is at odds with modern day societal norms.

“We don’t believe the practice is appropriate or relevant to Formula 1 and its fans, old and new, across the world.”

The BBC spoke with one of the newly sacked: Charlotte Gash:

“It’s upsetting and I’m rather disgusted that F1 have given in to the minority to be politically correct…. I know the grid girls are there to look pretty when they’re out on the grid but my role was interacting with the crowd and we were there as an advertisement for the sponsors. We love doing it we don’t want it taken away from us.”

 

charlotte gash

 

Charlotte Gash, there.

Men, start your engines…

Posted: 31st, January 2018 | In: Sports, TV & Radio | Comment


Cathy Newman repeatedly tells Jordan Peterson what he’s saying in horrendous interview

If you cannot understand what your interviewee is saying, you can always couch it in terms you do understand. When Channel 4 journalist Cathy Newman interviewed University of Toronto psychology professor Jordan Peterson, she did just that, opting to bypass Peterson’s actual words and debate points Peterson didn’t say. Her preferred method was to tell Peterson over and over “What you’re saying is…”

The upshot is that anyone tuning in will fancy reading Peterson’s book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. Camille Paglia calls him “the most important Canadian thinker since Marshall McLuhan”. You might not agree with him, but it helps to listen:

 

 

Peterson debates the interview: “She fabricated on the fly the villain she hoped I’d be”. And on his right to offend, he nails it: “All you have as a journalist is the right to offend people and hurt their feelings.”

 

 

His video the psychological significance of biblical stories  is worth watching.

Posted: 23rd, January 2018 | In: News, TV & Radio | Comments (2)


Spurs manager Tim Sherwood explains Stoke City’s malaise in classic Coleman Balls

On Sky Sports, Tim Sherwood, the former manager of Spurs, Aston Villa and Swindon Town, turns his mind to Stoke City. Mark Hughes is no longer with Stoke, sacked after spending five seasons building a team. When still in the role, Sherwood explained what Hughes needed to do to continue.

 

 

“Mark Hughes cannot win. The only time he can win is by winning this football match”
– Tim Sherwood

Spotter: 

Posted: 14th, January 2018 | In: Sports, TV & Radio | Comment


BBC: Jeremy Corbyn pays tribute to ‘Prince Harry and Hezbollah’

Jeremy Corbyn wants to say a few things about “Harry and his brother”. Or as the BBC’s subtitler puts it: “Harry and Hezbollah.” A typo or is ‘Hezbollah’ the new nickname for Meghan Markle? Bit harsh.

 

harry and hezbollah jeremy corbyn

 

Spotter: Giles Dilnot

Posted: 28th, November 2017 | In: Politicians, Royal Family, TV & Radio | Comment


Paul Hollywood’s Indian Summer

Summer Paul Hollywood

 

No topless photos of Paul Hollywood, 51, the TV baker leaving his wife of umpteen years. No photos of Paul in his undies, posing with a cheeky glance to camera as his taps his buttocks. And no revelations that he likes to hang homemade ring donuts on his manhood in the way the actor John Bindon used to hand five half-pint glasses on his penis.

Instead we get Paul telling us that years ago a fortuneteller told him he would be “very wealthy and very famous” (Daily Star), and two big photos of Summer Moneys Fulham, a 22-year-old barmaid (Daily Mail). In one, Summer does the splits on the bar of a Kent pub where she met the TV oven stuffer. In another she smiles in a low-cut top.

The Mail recalls Hollywood’s affair with Marcel Valladolid, his co-judge on the US version of the Great British Bake Off, telling readers that he called it “the biggest mistake of my life”.

On the Mirror’s front page, it’s “Bake Off Paul” and the “barmaid”. Hollywood ‘Splashes the dough” (geddit?) on “young barmaid Summer Monteys-Fulham”, now given a hyphen.

The message is clear: he is money and fame; she is seduction and regret. Love and sex are different for girls.

We read that Summer has “apparently quit her job”, deleted her social media profiles and moved out her parent’s “£1m home”.  Her life seems to have been changed since the Sun on Sunday broke news that she and Hollywood had become friends. “It has clearly upset her a lot,” says an unnamed source to the Mail.

So the single woman gets profiled and finds herself in the paper, the object of our heated debate and judgement. Wonder what the stars said lurked in store for her.

Posted: 27th, November 2017 | In: Celebrities, News, Tabloids, TV & Radio | Comment


Jack Maynard: let’s feed him to the cockroaches and Dennis Wise

JAck Maynard

 

They’re gunning for Jack Maynard, the YouTuber who left the I’m A Celebrity Jungle accused of making alleged racist and homophobic tweets. Exposed by the Sun, Maynard is hammered by the Mirror, which leads with his face and the headline:”Teenage girl: I’m A CelebJack begged me for pic in my bra.” It might have been kinder to have Jack Maynard buried in a cockroach-infested hole in the Australian jungle with Dennis Wise for company. But that’s not to diminish from his apparent offence. Being buried alive for TV entertainment was too good for him.

On page 8, we read: “Your boobs are nice & would look good in bra shot…Ever take one?” The claim is that Jack “pestered the girl” when Jack was 17. We’re told there is “no suggestion he knew the girl was only 14 at the time”.

We then get introduced to the ‘victim’, who says she was a fan of Jack’s brother Conor Maynard and “sought his advice on becoming an online model”. They then allegedly got into an exchange, in which Maynard was told he is only famous through his brother and he told her: “Who the fuck even are you? You’re an ugly freak.”

We then hear from her: “I looked up to Jack as a role mode and I found his persistence annoying. But I saw it as relatively harmless flirting given the small age gap… I don’t think he was aware I was younger than him. He was just a bit of a dickhead…” The Sun ignores the bra and says, “he had also begged a 14-year-old fan to send him nude pictures.”

The Sun also quotes the ‘victim’, no aged 10, who says: “He was 16, I was 14. It was something that happens to everyone. [The Mirror said he was 17.] I never once felt harassed. We were kids, it’s not once harmed me at all in any way. It’s in the past. It is a serious allegation to make, but you’re a kid, you make mistakes. He didn’t know how old I was, and I didn’t know how old he was at the time. I cannot stress enough that the messages were harmless.”

And that’s it. “I’m sorry to anyone that I upset, anyone that I offended, anyone I made feel uncomfortable,” says Maynard. “Growing up I was all over social, my entire life was on social media an through that it led to be my job. I’ve tweeted some bad things, some horrible things, that I’m just ashamed of.” The Sun says he wad “grinning” and “smirking” when he apologised in a video.

Thankfully, no journalists ever said anything that might have caused offence.

 

Posted: 24th, November 2017 | In: Celebrities, News, Tabloids, TV & Radio | Comment


Jack Maynard: outrage as ‘racist’ vlogger avoids being eaten by rats

So farewell, Jack Maynard, aka ‘YouTuber Jack Maynard’, who has left I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! to sort out “circumstances outside camp”. Maynard wanted to “do the internet proud”. And he did just that, introducing the TV-watching tribes to life on the web. As the Sun thunders: “YouTube sensation, 22, was forced to apologise for racist and homophobic slurs on his Twitter account where he branded users ‘retarded’.”

Twitter’s a bit like a 1970s comedians showcase, albeit without the wit, laughs, likeable characters and fun.

 

 

The Sun took it upon itself to “reveal” some of Maynard’s “racist and homophobic tweets”, although it saw reason to edit them. Too rude for the paper that used to feature stunnas on Page 3 and still advertises phone lines for onanists seeking on-the-clock relief – yesterday readers were invited to call “X-Rated Cheap Girls – 18-94 Year Olds” and “HOT GIRLS [age unspecified]”. Thankfully, Pink News is less prudish. Damning Maynard as someone “famous for being the younger brother of singer Connor Maynard”, we read:

When an abusive commenter suggested he had profited off of his brother’s fame, Maynard hit back: “Completely forgot you know how I got it YOU RETARDED FAGGOT”.

He also used what the mainstream media terms ‘the N-word”. Censorship is provided by the Sun. (If you want to read the bad words, you need to get yourself on twitter.)

 

 

So Jack’s gone to spend time with his selfies, denying his accusers the chance to watch him being locked in a buried coffin and terrorised by rats. You had your chance.

Even better is the “spokesperson for the vlogger” – yep, even narcissists have their limits – who tells the Sun:

“Jack is ashamed of what he said in these tweets, many of which were deleted a long time ago and were sent in response to a neighbour who was bullying him. Jack was a lot younger when he posted them in 2012 but realises that age is no defence.”

Anyone else read that and see an adult explaining the action of a child? Jack is a big boy, says the grown up, and he knows he has done wrong. That leads to the a classic non-denial denial with sympathetic back story:

“He would never use that language now and realises that, as someone who was bullied himself, this kind of retaliatory, inflammatory, insulting language is completely unacceptable.”

Look at Jack Maynard less as the perpetrator, but as a victim living out fantasies born of a difficult childhood.

Posted: 22nd, November 2017 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, News, Tabloids, TV & Radio | Comment


This Heinz Stranger Things ketchup bottle top is brilliant

heinz stranger things ketchup

 

Spotter: Adam The Creator

Posted: 9th, November 2017 | In: The Consumer, TV & Radio | Comment


Toothless sex sold for £4 in Liverpool

BBC Three prostitution

‘Natalie’

 

The Daily Mail has a story about on-the-clock sex and immigrants. The news comes via a BBC Three documentary on life in Liverpool:

Sex workers in a major British city are said to be selling their bodies for as little as £4 – with prostitutes blaming an influx of Eastern European competitors for pushing down prices.

That this is bad is pointed to by the Mail’s images of prostitutes and pimps lurking in the shadows looking miserable. Have you ever seen a newspaper story on prostitution featuring a woman running through bluebells? That the women are in need of rescue is a given.

Punters want cheap sex. There’s the obvious economic argument to defer from the headline: increased supply and a steady demand leads to lower prices. But the market for flesh is geared towards risk: it’s legal to sell your body in private but selling it in a public space, kerb-crawling, running a brothel and pimping are illegal. In an unregulated environment buying sex is a crime. Prostitution is a dangerous business. How can a woman complain of abuse and criminality, access safe lodgings and medical support without getting into trouble and running pellmell into judgement?

“The worst thing about prostitution is the lack of respect and opprobrium, and the pity and the assumptions that are piled onto prostitutes,” says AA Gill.  “The root cause of all the dangers and misery of prostitution is because society despises prostitutes and the men who use them. So I wouldn’t make any of it illegal but what I would do is insist that anyone who used a prostitute had to work as a prostitute once a year, just to see what it was like.” Good idea.

The Mail continues:

The documentary tells the story of crack addict Natalie, who works on the streets to fund her habit.

Selling sex is a reality. A woman’s autonomous choice to sell her body is often fed by a consuming need. “They sell sex to pay for their habits,” says Michaela Edwards of the charity Streetwise. “Some do it to pay for Christmas presents for the kids. Some to pay the rent after getting their benefits cut.”

It’s about the money, right? “I’ve had to give a blow job out for a tenner because I’d been rattling for the heroin. Some days it’s even hard to make 60 quid,” says Hayley on the show. “Obviously the men are coming asking for cheaper money and we’re saying ‘no’. Then other girls are going and doing it,” says Hayley. “Some girl’s done it for £8, for anal and everything.”

And of the £4 rate, she adds: “Sex, here – some of the girls give it away for four quid. Because they’re battling for business, because they’re desperate to get crack.”

And having introduced the show’s plot, the Mail than adds:

A man named Jack, who lives with Natalie, blames Eastern European sex workers for flooding the market and slashing prices. He claims women come from as far as Serbia and Croatia and sell sex for rock bottom prices.
He said: ‘They’re absolute stunners. But the local girls… Sometimes I have to lend them my teeth.’

Spotter: Mail

Posted: 29th, October 2017 | In: News, Tabloids, TV & Radio | Comment


In 1980 Sesame Street toured a saxophone factory and I was hooked

I used to play the alto sax. Badly. I knew I was not all that good a musician when the school violin virtuoso was invited to listen to me play. ‘Too sharp,’ he said. ‘Too flat.’ To me it all sounded the same.

In 1980, Sesame Street toured a saxophone factory.  Background music was supplied by an off-camera sax player, playing freestyle. the only word he said was “Saxophone”. And with that I was hooked.

 

Yeah! (Anyone know his name?)

 

saxophone tour sesame street

Spotter: Laughing Squid

Posted: 22nd, October 2017 | In: Music, TV & Radio | Comment