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BBC1…Pound Shops Wars

6 Feb

The most common question asked at a PoundWorld?…”How much is this?”

With this we are introduced to new documentary series looking into the world of Pound shops. Anyone who has paid even the most casual attention to the range of shops on the high street could not have helped notice the emergence of these brand of uber discounters.

Poundland, PoundWorld, PoundStretcher and even in this ultra-discounted sector there is is a sub sector for those who find £1 a bit of a stretch, the 99p stores

Today we introduced to the £1 bra (accompanied by a raft of the inevitable and incredibly dreary puns!). PoundWorld launched  these as a new product range and two questions immediately spring to mind, will anyone buy it or how did they make it so cheap.

To answer the first question we have to take a segway to the 1989 film Field of Dream, where the hero is inspired build a baseball park by his belief that build it and they shall come and in the film against all odds he built it and they came.

The world of pound shops is somewhat similar, price it cheap enough and they will come to buy it. In the case of the £1 bra, with the help of some publicity from the titillating tabloid press involving a trampoline, PoundWorld sold an incredible 100,000 in ten days and over the rest of the summer sold over 700,000.

So how do they do it? The answer is China. Cheap materials, cheap manufacturing costs and all that is left is to price them low and stack them high is the formula the propels this phenomenon.

It is a somewhat sad indictment of what our society has become, so resolutely consumerist, consuming because it is there and cheap not because we have to. If the consumerism is our new religion these shops may not be the cathedrals of the religion they are more like the missionaries pushing and spreading the consumerism deep into the furthest reaches of society.

 

BBC 1…Room 101 Who says Germans aren’t funny…

1 Feb

Is Henning Wehn the funniest German you have ever seen?

Who says Germans can’t be funny, and by funny I mean funny haha, rather than funny peculiar.  If you have bought into the stereotypes of our German cousins being incredibly efficient but extremely dour then you have probably never met Henning Wehn. Who, you might ask?

Henning Wehn is not just a very funny comedian who happens to be German he is, to give him his full self-appointed title, The German Comedy Ambassador to Great Britain and I don’t think there is a better man for the job. You may know him from such shows as 8 out of 10 Cats and Would I Lie to you.

No content with spreading Teutonic mirth to these shows, today he graced the panel of Room 101 with Frank Skinner. He was delightful, his items to dispose of were Charity, The Royal Family and Birthdays in Restaurants.  His comedic rant about charities was particular funny, and he his quips on the Royal Family were funny but close to bone (no OBE for you Mr Ambassador).

If you are still in denial about the existence of German humour you can check it out for yourself on BBC iPlayer.

Actor Roger Lloyd-Pack “Trigger” Dies.

16 Jan

Roger Lloyd-Pack, Trigger from Only Fools and Horses passes away aged 69.

It was announced today the actor Roger Lloyd Pack has passed away today. He was most famous for his role as Trigger in the hit comedy series Only Fools and Horses.

Tribute have poured acorss from the entertainment industry  and beyond it.

BBC

Roger Lloyd Pack, who has died aged 69, was best known as the gormless Trigger in the BBC One comedy Only Fools and Horses.

Possessed of a rubbery face, which he used to great effect, he was sometimes difficult to cast but never became typecast.

But it was his depth as an actor that enabled him to make much of the minor roles in which he often found himself.

David Jason (Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses)

“I was very saddened to hear of Roger’s passing. He was a very quiet, kind and unassuming actor who was a pleasure to work with, although he played the simple soul of Trigger in Only Fools And Horses, he was a very intelligent man and a very fine actor capable of many roles. I shall remember him with fondness and for all the good times we had together.”

Nicholas Lyndhurst (Rodney  “Dave” in Only Fools and Horses)

“I’m so saddened to hear about Roger. He was the most accomplished actor and loved by millions, I will miss him greatly.”

As a celebration of this greater actor here are some of his most famous from Only Fools and Horses

On Ghandi

 

Why do they cool him Trigger?

 

Staying Cool with Del Boy in a Wine Bar.

BBC1…Katie Hopkins from Apprentice to Professional “wind-up merchant”

11 Jan

Is Katie Hopkins building a career out of being objectionable?

Katie Hopkins first came to the nation’s conscience as a contestant on the reality TV show “The Apprentice”, even way back then in 2007 her talent for causing raised eyebrows and tut-tutting amongst the chattering classes was quickly established. She famously said of fellow contestant Kristina Grimes – “Kristina is quite frankly too orange to be taken seriously” and of another contestant Adam Hoskins who she claimed over indulged in the odd glass of red wine – “When your best friends are Mr Pinot and Mr Grigio, you want to watch it.”

She didn’t win the Apprentice, in her words turning down the Sir Alan Sugar’s offer, although it was extremely unlikely she ever stood a chance. Rather being a dampener on any ambitions she had, failing to win turned out to be the beginning of her rise to some sort of fame.

Along the way she appeared in “I Am A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, castigated people for naming their children after places, even though she has a child named India, was outspoken on how ‘soft’ mothers have left us a nation full of obese children, and openly expressed a distaste for ginger-haired children.

Her love of the controversial has meant she has found a niche in the media as the go-to person when you need someone controversial on social issues. Not content with that she is increasingly branching out with her controversial opinions into the world of politics.

She brought her particular brand of rabble rousing to BBC’s topical news programme – This Week. Incensed by what she had seen earlier this week on the Channel 4 programme – Benefit Street – she came to do battle with Labour MP and regular pundit on the show, Dianne Abbot.

Despite Dianne’s patient attempts to explain to Katie that the bulk of welfare payments are made to pensioners and people who are in work, Katie, not one to have her prepared rant swayed by statistics and considered detailed, ploughed on. She ensured that she used the right words guaranteed to wind up middle England, peppering her ill thought position with repeated mentions of “scroungers”, “skivvers” and “work-shy”, tried to bait Dianne by being particularly obnoxious and rounding it of with a ridiculous anecdote on how on a recent cruise she took half of the people boasted about how they were claiming benefits.

Just the sort of controversy that producers of bland late night political shows love.

BBC…Clare Balding to lead Winter Olympics coverage.

9 Jan

BBC announces Sochi Winter Olympics coverage

The London 2012 Olympics produced two winners for the BBC. The first was acclaim for its unparalleled multi-channel coverage of pretty much all sports at the Olympics, and the second was Clare Balding.

Well for fans of multi-sport extravaganzas the goods news are that both are back for the Winter Olympics which starts in Sochi, Russia in four weeks time.

The BBC has promised that its programming will consist of Six HD streams across digital platforms to deliver over 650 hours of live action, covering every moment of Sochi 2014. New digital approach brings world-class live event coverage to audiences with over 200 hours on network TV plus two red button streams.

650 hours of sport over two weeks should keep even the most die hard sports junkie well taken care of.

Clare Balding’s informative, engaged and enthusiastic presentation during the Olympics was a ratings winner. So exemplary was her coverage that she was awarded a special BAFTA in  for outstanding achievement in factual presenting in recognition of her coverage of the Olympics.

Say what you like about the BBC, but they know a good thing when they see one, so no surprise that Clare along side Hazel Irvine and Jonathan Edwards will lead the BBCs team to Russia. She will no doubt be looking forward to another Olympic commentary gem like the now famous Bert Le Clos interview.

The 2014 Winter Olympics games runs from the 7th of February, 2014 to the 23rd of February, 2014 in Sochi, Russia

 

 

Mrs Brown’s Boys is TV Christmas No 1.

26 Dec

To me Mrs Brown’s Boys is not a programme I have really got.  It comes across to me a mix of 1970′s northern variety act and a Carry On film, however the rest of the great British nation clearly disagree. Mrs Brown’s Boys was the most watched programme on Christmas Day beating all comers including perennial chart toppers like EastEnders and Dr Who.

Top Ten programmes this Christmas (2013) (Average number of viewers [percentage of viewers])

  1.  9.30pm: Mrs Brown’s Boys – BBC One – 9.4m  [35.5%]
  2.  7.30pm: Doctor Who – BBC One – 8.3m  [30.7%]
  3.  7.30pm: Coronation Street – ITV1 – 7.9m [29.3%]
  4.  8.30pm: EastEnders – BBC One – 7.8m [29%]
  5.  5.00pm: Strictly Come Dancing – BBC One – 7.3m [35.4%]
  6.  6.15pm: Call The Midwife – BBC One – 7.1m [30.1%]
  7.  8.30 pm: Downton Abbey – ITV1 – 6.6m [25.4%]
  8.  3.20pm: Toy Story 3 – BBC One – 6.3m [38.9%]
  9.  3.00pm: The Queen’s Speech – BBC One – 5.7m [36.2%]  /  7.15pm: ITV1 News – ITV1 – 5.7m [23.5%]
  10.  3.10pm: BBC One News – BBC One – 5.6m [37.4%]

 

 

 

 

 

 

BBC1…Fern Britton meets Christine Ohuruogu

22 Dec

Christine Ohuruogu is arguably the most successful female athlete the United Kingdom has ever produced, more successful than Jessica Ennis, Mary Peters, Sally Gunnell, Denise Lewis or even Kelly Holmes, but a casual observer of athletics would never know that.

To say she has a very low key profile would be an over statement, why is that?  This is a lady who has won two consecutive Olympic medals, a gold in Beijing 2008 and a silver in London 2012, she has won five World Championship medals stretching from 2005 to this year across the 400 m individual and 400m relay events, and also numerous other medals in Indoor, European and Commonwealth Championships.

In BBC1′s series Fern Britton Meets, Fern set out to find what was the story behind Christine Ohuruogu.

One of the reasons that has long been given as the reason for the public and media’s reluctance to embrace Christine as a British sporting icon was the her ban in 2006 for missing three drug tests.

That headline alone meant she got tagged alongside athletes who were known to intentionally and repeatedly cheat, but in doing so it did her a massive disservice and harm to her reputation.

Most people would have never read the detail of the report that followed the investigation into her missed drug tests. If they had they would have read this

On the occasion of the third missed test, she failed to notify testers of a switch of training venue to Crystal Palace when she discovered her usual base at Mile End Stadium was hosting a school sports day.

But just nine days earlier, at the European Championship trials in Manchester, Ohuruogu had been asked to give a sample to testers after finishing fifth in the 200m. It came back negative.

Then, three days after the missed test, she was tested again, this time at the British Grand Prix at Crystal Palace, where she had finished last. Again, the results were negative.

and this

“In fairness, the committee should make clear its view as to the limited degree of fault attributed to her. This was a minor unintentional infraction of the regime due only to forgetfulness.

There is no suggestion, nor any grounds for suspicion, that the offence may have been deliberate in order to prevent testing. The omissions are too haphazard for any such suspicion to arise.

“The athlete was tested negative on several occasions during this period and has always co-operated with doping control officers. She did notify changes to her schedule on many occasions but failed in these three instances. Those failures are understandable given all the circumstances.

“Accordingly, if the committee had… a discretion to order a fair penalty, we would have imposed a sanction of three months, consistent with the [World Anti Doping Agency] code. But… the committee is obliged under IAAF rules to impose a fixed penalty of one year’s ineligibility.”

However in the frenzy of the sound bite driven media world we live in detail is often the first victim.

Fern sought out explore this and other issues with Christine. What we got was a calm, humble and articulate athlete. A woman who does not need the oxygen of media publicity to thrive, and arguably seeks to avoid it. Her bedrock was built on three things, a tight-knit family, a strong religious faith, and a bond with her community.

Her faith in her innocence saw her through the dark days of her ban from her athletics, and the belief of the people who surrounded her helped propel her back into the upper echelons of the sport she loves.

She may never become the face of athletics in the UK, but you got a sense from the interview that her heart does not  lie in that direction. She was seemingly more comfortable going round the schools of Newham her local borough, which she does often, spreading inspirational messages to the next generation of British sportsmen and women.

It may have all been a puff-piece to rehabilitate her image, but I personally came a way with a sense that what we saw was the real Christine Ohuruogu.

BBC1…Match Of The Day [Football Speak]

1 Dec

There are many things to love about football but one thing it does not get enough kudos for is unintentionally re-inventing the English language. Take today for instance, Chelsea had just defeated Southampton 3-1 and the highlights were shown on Match Of the Day 2 on BBC1.

One of the scorers in that match was Chelsea defender Gary Cahill who scored the first of  Chelsea’s three goals. Cahill had not scored in a while and when reminded of this fact in the post-match interview replied how he was “glad to get this duck of his back“.

I can’t help but feel this particular metaphor does not fit the bill…:-)

 

BBC1…Should I be worried? I think I like Citizen Khan

8 Nov

When Citizen Khan first came on air I thought “Here we go another misguided attempt at multi-culturally diverse programming on BBC1″. Don’t get me wrong there have been great successes like the “The Real McCoy”, “Goodness Gracious Me” and “The Kumars At Number 42“, but there have also been abysmal flops like “The Crouches“.

Which way was Citizen Khan going to go? The first few episodes were not encouraging. With its heavy reliance on stereotypes the programme plunged depths that would have embarrassed even the late Bernard Manning. It was like someone had unearthed a scripts from “Till Death Do Us Part” swapped Alf Garnett and his family with a Pakistani family and voila! we got citizen Khan.

Despite my reservations I think the programme has improved, largely because it has moved away from relying too heavily on stereotypes and racially-tinged jokes (largely with Indians as the butt of the jokes). The humour has become broadly based, drawing on experiences that even if you are not of Pakistani origin you could still find amusing.

Is it great comedy? No I would not say so, but it does still raises the odd chuckle as I watch it. It is also a brave attempt to portray Muslims and Islamic life in a way I can’t recall being done on British TV before.

BBC1. Bluestone 42. A hidden comedy gem in the late night schedules

26 Oct

If you were to take a large dollop of the 70′s hit series M*A*S*H, mix in a couple of teaspoons of Channel 4′s comedy ‘Green Wing‘, add just a soupçon of the ‘Carry On’ films, flavour with an essence of the Oscar winning film The Hurt Locker while not forgetting to sieve out any thought-provoking darkness or depth, the end result? Bluestone 42.

Bluestone 42 is a light-hearted take on what is potentially a controversial subject. The Comedy drama follows the day to day goings on in the lives of a bomb disposal detachment serving in Afghanistan. With Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) accounting for over fifty percent of British casualties in the ongoing Afghanistan war it was always going to be a tricky topic to base a comedy on. The writers, by concentrating on the often mundane downtime in the camp that the troops experience between patrols and being called into action, manage to avoid any really tricky issues.

What you get is a very funny comedy with a focus of banter between troops who find themselves with a lot of time on their hands, and a very unlikely wartime romantic “would they, wont they” arc between an officer and the camp chaplain.

Following in the steps of ‘Gavin and Stacey‘, ‘Torchwood‘ and ‘Little Britain‘. Bluestone 43 has made the leap from the youth programming laboratory that is BBC 3 to the mass market, big audiences and promise of multiple series offered by BBC1.

For fans of Borgen, the Danish political thriller that was a big hit for BBC4, yesterday’s episode of Bluestone had a bit of a crossover with Birgitte Hjort Sorensen (Katrine Fonsmark in Borgen) making a guest appearance as a Danish Journalist. Preview is below.