Tuesday, October 12, 2010
But....the Beeb seem to have lost faith in the Commonwealth Games, or to be more to the point lost the art and point of sports broadcasting. Not only is the coverage very poor generally, there is far too much emphasis on the professional “glamorous” sports and they spend more time doing fancy inserts than showing us the action. Maybe they need to justify having that mumbling American Michael Johnson as a a host – a man so good he cant get a job in his own country. Lets take last nights highlights programme as an example. One hour long to cover a busy day at the games. You would expect lots of variety covered, lots of time trying to cover the remarkable achievements of the ordinary men and women who represent the home nations and pay that licence fee.
What do the Beeb do – well they spend 15 minutes – so a quarter of the time talking about an Australian sprinter who won an event that lasted less than 15 seconds. They even showed the Australian TV trailer for the event! So on it went on more athletics for half an hour. Now had none of the home nations done much that day then okay fill the time, but to be honest there was plenty going on. Lets not forget for example two golds – one for England one for Scotland. Oh but I forgot, they were amateurs, probably taking unpaid leave from their jobs to compete in sports that they really do have to sacrifice things for – not the “sacrifice” the lottery funded professional speak so glibly of. So did these champions get mentioned – oh maybe one minutes coverage between them. And for why – well they were in Bowls and shooting – clealry not sexy enough for the shallow Beeb. Shame on the beeb, and shame on us for not melting their phone lines in complaint.
Monday, August 2, 2010
This concerns me for lots of reasons, not least that it seems to indicate that Radio 4 believe our appetite for news - and I mean real news - and analysis - and I mean proper analysis - is in decline. "The audience cant take it" seems to be their view because, trust me there is plenty of news and analysis out there to be covered if they chose to do it. Instead they seem to believe that we want some parochial magazine show. So Today is declining into a flabby self satisfied and safe magazine programme - no doubt with sofa type sound effects soon.
What is particularity worrying for me is that it seems more and more like the USA where the absence of good news programming amongst a plethora of channels is staggering. One of the consequences of this is a population very poorly in formed about what is happening outside of the borders of their own country. But perhaps that is it. Radio 4 has become obsessed with the USA - we even had to sacrifice Go4it to the truly risible Americana. So maybe that is the plan – BBC may turn into FOX News – oh heaven help us!
I will go back to Tunbridge Wells now.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Now I have very little positive to say about Sky - really very, very little. But one thing I will say is that they do have standards of personal presentation that other TV channels would do well to pay attention to. Sky seem to remember that they are entering the homes of millions as guests and so should be suitably respectful and that is conveyed in the way they dress.
I might seem a bit old fashioned but to me its still the same in business. I have always taken a view that if you turn up to a meeting with me looking for work or custom but dressed like you have just got out of bed don’t expect to be leaving with anything other than a flea in the proverbial lug.
Does that mean I would do business with Murdoch ….oh my word!!!!
Let me think this through again……?
Friday, June 18, 2010
I have to say these pieces of historical magnificence are such a contrast to the rather poor quality of speech and debate we heard yesterday at the Congressional inquiry at which Tony Hayward was pilloried. Now let me say for the record I have no sympathy for big corporates that do wrong and ride roughshod over ethical standards in pursuit of profit, and BP looks as guilty as hell so they deserve all they get. But it is the hypocrisy and arrogance and rather poor rhetoric of of the interrogators that got me. If only there had been such outcry over Bhopal. But of course there are some memorable appearances before the committee- George Galloway springs to mind.
On a more personal note the reminder of the French Government in exile took me back to a time some 20 years ago when I spent a good deal of time travelling in Indonesia. I travelled alone and reached some pretty interesting places – notably staying with a Dayak group in central Borneo. But my self satisfaction at being something of an intrepid traveller was rather punctured when I met a Dutch lady called Nina in central Sulawesi. She was in her late 60's, diabetic and had some difficulty walking having been run over by a bus in an earlier expedition. Her sight was not all that it might be – as a result of her diabetes – but she was not to be daunted in her desire to travel. Nina was full of fascinating tales having spent part of her childhood in Indonesia, and being part of the Free Dutch group in exile in England during the war. She could tell many a fascinating tale and we dodged the torrential rain and potent red Tuak rice wine in tumble down bars as nasty creepy crawlies climbed the walls and occasionally our legs. She spoke of the occasions she had met De Gaulle as well as part of the community of exiles in London at the time all in her quiet and soft English tempered by the Dutch accent. We lost touch and I have no idea where she is now or even if she is till with us, but it is a fond memory and if you read this Nina, yes I did look for the Makassar Schooners – did you find that Captain?
Thursday, May 27, 2010
For me I cant help but think about Mrs Miniver when I hear about the ships setting off. Walter Pidgeon departing from the, very, middle class boat club leaving the absolutely lovely Greer Garson to fend off marooned German fliers. But since last Sunday it will also make me think of The Snowgoose. The BBC ran a Neglected Classics scheme as part of its Book Club programme where they asked listeners to vote for a neglected classic book from a list of nominations recommended by a number of authors. The winner was The Snowgoose by Paul Gallico as recommended by Michael Morpurgo and the prize was to have the book dramatised for radio as part of the Classic Serial series. The marvellous production was a tremendous vindication of the competition. At TESCAPE we are very much of the view that there is a rich vein of forgotten classics out there and we intend to bring them to the fore in the coming years. So hip hip huzzah for the little ships and a well done to BBC for reminding us of the fact that it doesn't have to be famous to be good.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
The film, for those than don’t know, is the story of Bill’s life which was tragically cut short by pancreatic cancer at the age of 32. It is a fantastic insight into the development of his work and includes snatches of the act that made him such a legend. I still remember that feeling of jaw dropping astonishment when I first saw him perform at the Just for Laughs comedy festival in Montreal. In an instant you realised you were in the presence of genius, pure Rock&Roll. I took every opportunity to see him from that point on and I was privileged to see him on his final UK tour when his act was absolutely at its zenith and though that show was filmed I have seen very little of it air on TV – just a bit too edgy for general consumption even now.
I can’t recommend the film highly enough and once you have watched it go out and buy all the DVDs of his shows. Bill was a prophet and seer, a truth seeker and speaker, a burster of hypocrisy bubbles and an inspiration, and if laughing is as good for you as they say then he was a fitness guru to boot.
Thanks Bill and like you say man – “it’s just a ride!”
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Rachel Cook, in her article Ship of Fools in the New Statesman, is the just the latest in a long line of critics. Now I though it was a rather daft exercise but I am at odds with what seems to be the general criticism. Generally the view of the nay sayers is that the “celebs” were uniformed or were giving opinions about “weighty political issues” that were judged on superficial or trite considerations rather than some forensic examination of manifestos.
I am not in the slightest surprised that the vast majority of voters are not obsessed with these matters and vote on the basis of what people like Rachel might think are unimportant considerations, and often blind tribalism. That's the way it is, that is democracy.
What I found rather disturbing about it was that the BBC thinks that the views of “Celebrities” should be any more important than the man in the Clapham omnibus who cleary hadn't been invited into the HellOK crew. For me “celebrity obsession” is far more depressing than the foibles of universal suffrage.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Hat tip the ongoing success of Doctor Kermode in the same awards. On ya mate!
Thursday, May 6, 2010
The event itself has some simpler to solve conundrums. My general contempt for politicians has always had echoes of youthful rebellion, the days when it was positively expected (an apparently evolutionary determined) that you should rebel against all and any form of establishment and authority. As I clearly don’t qualify for this anymore how else can I justify my scorn for politicians? Ah yes, wet behind the ears, un worldly and unruly children. They clearly need a stern word.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
But it does seem that we are progressively coarsening society by forgetting some of the home spun truths we learn when we are young at mother knee so to speak. There has been a trend, it seems to me, to regard any idea that has a long provenance is misguided or out of date, or not in tune with modern society. But to me many have stood the test of time, are universal and underpin a civil world and telling the truth is surely one of them.
I don't want to sound like an old curmudgeon but I am saddened by the number of media commentators who have said in the case of Gordon Brown – “There but for the grace of god go I.” Really? “We always tell little untruths don't we?” they say, “We all save peoples blushes by little white lies don't we?” they say. Really?
Well maybe it isn't entirely black and white this telling the truth idea but surely the casual and wholesale abandonment of it must be a concern. Media managers and spin doctors would deny this but they are fundamentally about peddling untruths by seeking to hide it. This is a practice that I have always found despicable in business where these days it seems telling the truth is to be regarded as entirely naïve. Lying and deceit is seen almost as macho thing and incumbent upon management as the burden of management despite the fact that it is in most cases entirely unnecessary. I have always held to the view that telling the truth is generally for the best. Whilst it can be hard it has generally worked well for me in the long run. To me it is fundamental to developing trust.
And that is what is at issue here for Gordon Brown. Its not that he called her a bigot its that he hadn't got the courage to challenge her views face to face despite the fact that he was seeking her endorsement as her representative. Can we really all say “Well we would all do that wouldn't we?” Well no actually not all of us would, because I wouldn't.
I am not making a party political point here. They are all at it. The expenses scandal seems to me the most compelling example of how this particular group of people have lost their connection to the simple maxims of the kindergarten about fairness and respect. Ed Balls brushing off the fact that he used his mobile while driving as a “fair cop”. So that makes it aright then? You can decide to risk the lives of your cars occupants and other road users by taking an unnecessary action in full knowledge that it was illegal.
The selfish and casual abandonment of Fulghums wise observation will come back and bite us I feel sure and, in the meantime, civil society will just get progressively less civil.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
The place itself is an extraordinarily beautiful location. Turquoise sea and timber clad coves, but the hillsides are still cut with the remains of slit trenches and redoubts now overgrown. Yet it has that sense of place so beloved of poets that even if you were unaware of its history you would detect that momentous and significant events had taken place there. For me visiting it for the first time, more than 20 years ago now, was a very affecting experience. I was lucky to be visiting with a small group of friends most of whom were Australian and New Zealanders. Ironically I was the only the only person from the group to have any relation involved in the campaign, and I had carried my grandfathers polished steel field mirror with me on the trip. We arrived late in the eventing and slept on the beach in Anzac Cove lighting a fire and talking late into the night. Before dawn we swam out into the cove and watched the sun come up from our vantage point out in the water. The silence and beauty of it all seemed so at odds with the knowledge of the carnage noise and death that we knew had happened there. For me it was a very moving and spiritual event and one that will always remain a solemn but treasured memory. As a reminder of the impact of war and, for me, the futility and waste of conflicts such as these, it has little to equal it.
When I visit an RSA in NZ and the lights are dimmed at the moment when we pay our respect to the fallen my mind often goes back to that place, to its peacefulness, its beauty and the terrible loss of life. We will remember them and their sacrifice.
Friday, April 23, 2010
- Settle down with a nice pint of good English bitter – how about trying something from the PotBelly Brewery in Kettering a fine micro brewer, Yeller Belly would be my choice today.
- Have a read of a good book, how about Tulagi Hotel – written by a Fin but in English – in fact it is the first book by a Fin to be both written and published in English not in Fin.
- Listen to some great spoken word and in the spirit of being inclusive I would recommend any of the quintessentially English Sherlock Holmes dramatised by Bert Coules and on the very fine BBC7
The game's afoot: Follow your spirit, and upon this charge. Cry 'God for Harry, England, and Saint George!
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Friday, April 2, 2010
So people don't switch banks according to the ICM/BBC survey.
Not surprising when it is made as difficult as it is. And what to switch too?
And people are happy? Apparently, but I suspect that, given that the services are pretty much universally poor, they are really saying “well my bank is no worse than any of the others so I guess I am happy relative to what I think I could actually get.”
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
I guess I am just old fashioned but the “progress” we are all supposed to be “enjoying” just doesn't seem like progress to me, and runs counter to what is supposed to be our most pressing concerns – the environment.
Friday, March 26, 2010
Poets have that touch and it was interesting and encouraging to hear about the popularity of poetry programming on some overseas broadcasters on last nights Front Row on BBC Radio 4
Finally we hear the the Times and Sunday times will be charging for web access from summer. Who really cares? Terre are many better alternatives available on line, certainly more balanced and non Murdoch ones!
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Created in the mid 70s and running to four series ending in 1981, it has all of the hall marks of classic TV of the era. Wobbly sets, dubious locations – so some windswept northern masquerading as Spanish beach by the addition of some potted palms - and truly hopeless special effects when viewed from an age of CGI. But these are ephemeral and what makes it such a continuing success is the quality of the material – the series was originated by and largely written by James Mitchell - and the outstanding cast.
Mitchell wrote much of the Callan series and contributed to many seminal British TV series. He also wrote novels as James Munro and his work is shot through with wit and life.
Bolam handles the part of Ford with great aplomb – as you would expect - using the many contradictions inherent in the character to form a compelling agent in storyline. IT would be easy to go on. The cast list includes many performers with exceptional dramatic skills and understanding of their craft. Edward Wilson for example who went on to do such highly regarded work at the NYT and the California Youth theatre. However the main point is that regardless of some of the failing of the set and production values, good quality material and exceptional performers will still produce compelling absorbing and lasting work. These are the values TESCAPE aims to uphold.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
At the risk of this blog becoming an obituary column we have to say farewell to Harry Carpenter. Harry has been described as “one of the old school”, and I think that is meant affectionately rather than in any pejorative sense. He was without compare as a boxing commentator but was versatile and acted as anchor for more general sports programmes – notably Sportnsight.
He was, though, BBC trained in the days when the BBC could get it right. An interesting voice rather than a spectacular voice, but he used it to such good effect. Modulated and not prone to hyperbole or high volume outburst he was able to inject tension excitement and bring the viewer of listener into the event. Today's scruffy and unrestrained commentators – who seem to think that shouting and squeaking, as if on the terraces, makes for good commentary – would have learned a lot from Harry – know what I mean?
Saturday, March 20, 2010
But for my need to listen to spoken word keeping me tuned into the radio through the night I might never have heard it. It is a constant reminder that the usual channels and popular culture is very much a constraining path through life, so we should always try to investigate the new and less common routes. It is also a reminder of just how much craft and skill there is to be found away from the heavily promoted and over hyped.
Sorry to have to say goodbye Charlie but thanks for the ride – we wont forget you.