Archive for the 'Television' Category

4oD (Catchup) on a mac – epilogue.

Launched waaaaaay back in Novemeber 2006, 4oD (well the catchup service at least) is now finally available for Macs. All mac users now see the ‘sorry’ ad pre-roll above and let’s hope the apology is excepted ;-). Some stats from Pipes show that 6.7% of viewers were Mac users in the past weeks, and my posts on 4oD (here and here) are some of the most read on this blog.

The online video world has changed much since 4oD came to life on that dark autumnal night. The quick replacement of the desktop client option with the streamed-in-a-browser version of both the iPlayer and 4oD Catch-up has been interesting, i doubt anyone saw that being popular.  From my own point of view I’ve never watched a downloaded programme using the iPlayer mac client, I downloaded a handful, but kept forgetting to watch them and they all expired.

So what about the future? Well, it seems we’ve not got a new and interesting distribution model, now all we need is to change the programme format. In this on-demand streaming age, why stick to 6x30mins?

Finding supporting content doesn’t get taffa than this!

Having just watched the Masterchef  final where Mssrs Wallace and Torode crowned (though with that trophy branded might be more appropriate) family man and Beaminster resident Mat Follas the winner, I headed over to the beeb site for more post TV buzz/come down.  The BBC homepage had nothing, ditto the /two page, the /food page is as quiet as the grave and /masterchef redirects to one of those SSI API cobbled together programme pages. Sadly I knew this would probably be the case. It’s a shame because this is the grand final of the series, a series which w/e 15th February was the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 7th most watched programme on BBC Two according to BARB, and last night got 4.7 million viewers, Not too shabby then.

Meanwhile over at the Guardian WoM page it was all kicking off with live blogging by Anna P and over three pages of comments, jokes and observations. There’s even Masterchef bingo cards. After the show The Mail had a story up, as did the METRO. The wikipedia page was updated at 9:16pm and even updated it’s page about local boy Andy Oliver loosing for Gods sake! Yet the beeb had nothing to see. 

There’s two things to consider here. The Guardian has, of late, done a nice line in articles, blogging, and commenting on mainstream TV shows. It’s been quietly hoovering up small pockets of interested folk and no doubt keeping some of them along the way.  It’s been doing this for Channel 4 TV shows too. Emily Bell must be thrilled. Secondly, despite the BBC (and others) banging on about connecting with viewers interests and wanting to ‘own the watercooler chat’ moment, they’re not, because The Big G (and bloggers) are doing it very very well indeed.

It’s the same thing with University Challenge Final on Monday.  All the hullaballoo about Gail Trimble et al, the BBC could have had those eyeballs, comments and page impressions (and love her/loathe her debate).  ‘Course in my day the argument was ‘we don’t have the tools’, well that’s not true anymore, the Beeb’s actually got it’s blogging kit in place. I know budgets are finite but still. These things are pre-recorded just as a drama is, it must be possible to create some content around them? A ‘tonight’s TV page’ perhaps? I think someone’s missing a trick, and more importantly audience, and it’s not the Guardian. 

From Homechoice to No Choice

Homechoice/Tiscali is shit - OFFICIAL Homechoice in action

Three years ago I decided to get Homechoice as I thought it a great product that offered phone, internet and on-demand services, as well a replay, a sort of budget catch-up service, all for around 20 quid a month.

I even recommended it to three friends who all subsequently took up the service. It had innovative things like the Kids Minimote, and a in 2005 got a snazzy new image desinged by Nevil Brody.

But ever since Tiscali took over the service has been run into the ground. Also if you’re an original homechoice user you’re on a worse deal that a new Tiscali subscriber. I’ve had loads of drop outs, crashes, poor customer service, and replacement boxes. It been BTs fault, it’s been my ‘distance from the exchange’, or the wiring in my building. But never the fact that they’ve not got teh oomph to deliver the product.

Well I’ve had enough. I’ve cancelled Homechoice, it was good once, but the sell out to Tiscali and rapid expansion into other UK cities has come at a cost to the infrastructure and customer support.

Think very hard before you take up this product. And if anyone from Homechoice wants to speak to me its eyedropper – at – mac – dot – com

AOP awards and RTS Futures talks

I’ve not posted for a while as my personal life’s in a bit of a tailspin…

…consequently I’ve been seeking solace at various champagne fuelled receptions, talks and awards do’s. First up 4oD was nominated for a Association of Online Publishers awards last Wednesday evening, for best Launch campaign (The big talent-filled vending machine one) After a comedy of errors mix up with the tickets that saw no one wanting to go, then everyone wanting to go once the rumour came round that we’d won, our table was eventually sorted, and I, as feeder of images into the beast duly rented the cheapest tux the Moss Brothers had to offer.

I’ve been to the AOP awards before, it’s a right boozy affair, that normally sees News International lot boo the Guardian, and everyone boo the BBC perhaps rather unfairly. My ex-colleagues at BBC food were robbed by the current bun for best use of video. Anyway, Paul and I went up to collect the trophy which have to be the cheapest in awardland, consisting of a sheet of paper in a plastic clip frame. There’s also a sit down dinner, and the food was just as bad as last year. The starter was salmon and avocado, it was that sort of bright matt pink cold smoked salmon that makes you do the gag reflex, dressing was ok though. Next up the mains, a slow-cooked fall apart when touched with a folk piece of beef in sauce which was actually rather nice, run-of-the-mill dauphinoise and the obligatory squeaky green beans. Dessert was a pongy eggy apple soufflé. I then proceeded to get smashed, talk shit and tumble into a cab home.

A couple of weeks before this I went to the RTS Futures panel talk at Madam Tussauds. The panel was chaired by Hardeep Singh Kohli and consisted of the Ash Attila, Charlie Brooker, Victoria Coren, and Alex Zane. Much telly was discussed, and the points raised ranged from ‘hard work will get you there’ from Ash, to ‘Be nice to people’ from Victoria and Charlie. Alex Zane made a good point about the return to live TV. How with shows like The Word you never quite knew what you were gonna get, they had an edginess to them. There was some rather dull Q&A, with most young people saying things like ‘I’m being made to ask people trick questions so they’ll look stupid in the edit’ ‘my producer’s a bully and I’m doing this because if I don’t someone else will’ and ‘I’m not getting any training on anything’.

The panel very kindly stuck around for a drink and I cornered Alex Zane by the Hitler and Churchill figures. He talked about how shows like Friday Night Project and Charlotte Church should be live, how hosts now are too beholden to agents, PR people and marketeers, about how it’s ok to piss talent off once in a while (as his spat with the Enemy testifies). We talked about The Big Breakfast, Shaun Rider on TFI Friday, and about The Word some more. Alex Zane is probably too young to remember this, but there was a US glam rock band called Warrant in the early 90s who went on The Word to sing their hit ‘Cherry Pie’ as the credits rolled. Little did they know that the audience were planning to pelt them with real cherry pies. The singer stopped mid way through due to taking one right in the face and the whole thing ended in a farce. Live, naughty, edgy, it was obviously the talk of the 6th form common room the next day. It’s this that Alex, coming from radio, is on about. Not juswhat! And give up show business!t a tit flash or swearing, but the potential for things to go wrong, for celebs and guests to actually have to know what they’re talking about and be put on the spot rather than have their handlers shout ‘cut’.

But on the way home I started to think about why any 20 year old nowadays would want to work in TV, especially at the moment. Most of the established names in TV got their in a different age. Working with most exec producers these days is like being in a band and thinking it’s ok to let your dad decided the musical direction. There’s talk in TV about ‘getting to the top’, about standing on the corpses of all the other media graduates to make it.. Well perhaps that was fine when broadcasting was based on a scarcity of spectrum and prohibitive costs, nowadays bandwidth, distribution, cameras and mates are cheap. To sum up, if you’re in your 20s nowadays and want to make programmes, get a camera and follow your mate’s band, or interview your family, go on nights out and film that, make the films and programmes no one else is making because they can’t. Sure you might fail, but you’ll have done something genuine and it’s sure better than fetching coffee for Loraine Kelly guests. There’s the old joke about the guy who cleans up the elephant shit at the circus, and when someone asks him why he doesn’t get a different job, he says ‘what! And give up show business!’

Victoria Coren made a good point. ‘Anyone who’s done anything ground breaking or revolutionary in TV has done it because they’ve managed to get it done under the radar with out anybody knowing or finding out’, or they’ve just found away to do it and got on with it I reckon. It’s not so much standing on the dead of your generation as fighting the saloon driving, villa owning generation in front of you. You’ve got to have a blinder of an idea mind. Coren went on to talk about Oz Clark and James May’s Big Wine Adventure – the premise of which is the expert with the sceptic – and how she fielded a phone call from someone at the BBC that went ‘Is there anything you really know a lot about and would like to share with someone, or conversely, is there a subject you don’t know much about but would like to know more?’ And you can bet it was some poor nervous untrained AP who they got to do it.

BBC London boy Barbet goes bigtime on breakfast!


Thought I’d overslept this morning as I turned on the TV to hear BBC London presenter Matt Barbet, must be the 8 o’ clock bulletin… But wait! He’s on the sofa with national sex bomb Suzanna Reid?! Confused first thing in the morning?! I was. He did the show on Saturday, perhaps as a screen test. Matt’s very popular with the ladies too apparently, there’s an interview with him here.

So it would seem King Durmers has an heir apparent! Wonder what Susanna thought, was it me or did I detect a slight hand holding? Heading up the flagship morning show is a lot harder than reading the news in the regional bulletins. You’ve got to have charm, wit, and be able to think on your feet. I thought he handled the interview with Barbara Pointon about her husband’s death from Alzheimer’s very well. I also thought she was an incredibly strong and brave woman, all credit to her for being in the film, natch certain groups are up in arms, despite Barbara defending the film maker.

I’ve noticed on Breakfast that when the interview is with a high ranking politician, it’s always seems to be Bill or Durmot who does the interview, I wonder if there’s a hierarchy?

So well done Matt, local boy done good (even though he’s from Cheshire) And here’s siren Susanna thrashing grandpa Bill on the Wii, (back to the bee’s billy!) And some images of her in full flow.

You’re not my bionic muvvah!

Thanks to a chum in C4 I got to see the pilot for the new Bionic Woman starring Michelle Ryan, known to us in Blighty as Zoe Slater. You can understand why she wanted out of ‘Enders after the script called for her finding out that her sister’s her mum, her mum’s her gran, her uncle’s her dad and her dad’s her grandpa. (Proof if it were needed that Ender’s lost it years ago)

So it was off to the USA and the big screen and the lead role as the Bionic woman. Pilot’s are always difficult to judge and this is no exception. It felt liked they’d squeezed too much into it, trying to cover to many bases and, well it just felt lacklustre is all I can say. I also felt they could have implemented the technology better, like how Battlestar added whole new layers of complexity with the religious angle. The bionic eye for example was a reticle that swooped round looking for a target, all very HUDy, but just felt really pedestrian. This could have been more of an ability. And if you’re into amputees, there’s a bit where she’s got no legs.

The show trades on it’s Battlestar connections both in front and behind the camera, I didn’t really get a sense of malice from Katee Sackhoff as the baddie of the piece, and why is it that female heroes always face up to female villains? And ‘The Chief’ seemed to be there to earn some pin money.

So on the whole not so much re-imagining as re-hashing. But who knows, it may bed in in the future. Good luck to Michelle Ryan though, as I think she’s quite a honey and would be my top cast if I were making ‘Pre-Rahpealites: The Movie’.

Message to Wayne Hemingway…

.. it’s just pronouced ‘flicker’ not ‘Flickcaaaaaaaaarh‘ as you said on BBC Breakfast this morning!

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These are my personal views and not those of Channel 4 or the BBC
February 2020
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