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ITV…Tom Daley’s ‘Splash’ was like an awkward belly flop

6 Jan

If you have followed Tom Daley’s career with any amount of interest one thing you couldn’t have missed  is that there was always a  media tint to it, so no surprise when the program ‘Splash’ was announced and he was a major part of it.

Tom is an Olympic ‘hero’ of sorts, granted it was just a Bronze medal but it far more than most of us will ever achieve sports-wise. As for the celebrities learning to dive from scratch does take a considerable amount of effort and dedication, so there are positives about the venture, but is it entertaining? With some trepidation I tuned into watch this.

In a summary the programme is like a cheap version of Strictly Come Dancing hosted in a local council’s leisure centre with diving instead of dancing.  Five episodes are to be shown with two celebrities each  from three heats making it to the Semi-finals and after that the final.

Tonight’s heat had Benidorm’s Jack Canuso, Sugar babe Jade Ewen, Comedians Omid Djalili and Helen Lederer, and Presenter Jenni Falconer competing for a place in the semi finals.

There seemed to have bussed in millions of screaming Tom Daley fans off to the Luton Regional Sport Centre, Stopsley where it is being filmed, as every time he made an appearance the volume of high-pitched screams went up several notches. Needless to say there were endless appearances of Tom in’ the micro trunks he’s made his trade mark to keep the fans contented.

The dive order was  Jade Ewen, Jack Canuso, Helen Lederer, Jenni Falconer and lastly Omid Djalili. The dive itself lasted no more than a few second which meant there was a huge amount of time to fill and a lot of it was filled by slow motion shots of the celebrity contestants boogey-ing and high-five-ing their way up onto the diving platform – all a bit weird and random.

The diving itself was mildly entertaining, Jenni was quite ambitious and seemed to have done the most technical of dives to my lay man eye’s , Omid and Jake were adventurous and Jade and Helen didn’t let themselves down as they conquered whatever fears they may have had coming into the competition.

The judging panel had Olympic silver medallist Leon Taylor, Team GB coach Andy Banks and Jo Brand, yes Jo Brand the comedienne  It turns out Jo Brand has previous form as it were, she had previously fronted a programme on satellite channel Dave called Jo Brand’s Big Splash and she dived on that programme after some training with a coach of Tom Daley’s, Blake Aldrige. So there you go

The judge scores were a bit erratic, especially those from Jo. With the judge’s scores tallied up Omid emerged top of the leader board followed by Jake, Jenni, Jade and Helen in that order.

Just like strictly the judges scores are added to a public vote and out of that Omid topped the overall score and went straight into the semi-final, Jade and Helen came bottom and were voted off the show, while Jake and Jenni went into the ‘splash-off’ which jake won to also go through to the semi-finals.

The sum of what I just described could have been over and done with in 20 or some minutes how on earth this programme ran for 90 minutes is nothing short of a master class in how to pad out a TV programme, over 30 minutes of commercials also helped.

Was it quality programming? No. Was it worse than other Saturday early evening filler we have endured over the years like Total Wipe out  Bring on the Wall, etc? Not really. Will I be making a point to catch up on it? No.

But if you want to judge for yourself you can watch it on ITV Player here .

ITV…Will Tom Daley’s Reality TV Show “Splash” sink or swim?

2 Jan

Why do TV stations like reality shows? The Simple answer is because they are far more profitable when compared to the traditional format TV shows. Reality TV shows require no writers or actors and are often shot at a single location which means lower costs.

How do the costs compare? An episode of BBC’s hospital drama Casualty costs about £500,000 to produce, and BBC budgets at least £900,000 per episode for its top range dramas. An hour of Big Brother on the other hand can cost about £100,000 to produce. Reality TVs which are celebrity driven will cost a bit extra but still a lot less than scripted dramas.

More tellingly unlike other low-budget programmes Reality TV shows often deliver enviable audience figures. So it comes as no surprise that ITV’s schedule across the broadcasters network is stuffed full of reality TV formats of all flavours from “I Am a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here”, “Hell’s Kitchen”, “Dancing on Ice”, “The X-Factor” to the “The Only Way is Essex (TOWIE)”.

You would think that by now ITV have exhausted every possible reality format possible, but you would be thinking wrong. Their latest offering takes a very photogenic, relatively successful Olympic ‘Hero’, adds a bunch of personalities with varying degrees of celebrity, and throws them into a set of task challenging enough to humiliate and embarrass and but not serious enough to injure and voila! you have Splash the new reality TV show from ITV.

The show is is a vehicle to take advantage of the popularity of Bronze medal winning Olympic diver Tom Daley and involves a bunch of celebrities learning how to dive.

Try as I may I just can’t see how this would be interesting. As an Olympic sport diving is mildly engaging, but as the premise of a reality show? We will obviously get the occasional Peter Kay style “running bomb” and some of the fitter celebs in nice looking swimwear but beyond that? We’ll have to see, reality shows have a funny way of defying convention.

‘Celebrities’ that have been lined up so far are reality TV veterans like TOWIE star Joey Essex ,Shameless’ Tina Malone and comedian Dom Joly.

Alongside them are newbies like Hollyoaks actress Jennifer Metcalfe, Sugababes singer Jade Ewen,Comedians Helen Lederer and Omid Djalili, Olympic boxer Anthony Ogogo, Benidorm’s Jake Canuso , TV host Jenni Falconer, Sky Sports News presenter Charlotte Jackson, gardener Diarmuid Gavin, Changing Rooms star Linda Barker and ski jumper Eddie ‘the Eagle’ Edward.

The show is to be hosted by Vernon Kay and Gabby Logan and starts this Saturday.

I Am A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here…. because the final is boring

30 Nov

ITV’s top reality show I Am a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here winds it way to this weekend’s final. The celebs came and one by one they were weeded out.

Brian Conley who it seems bit off more than he could chew. Nadine Dorries who for understandable reasons prefers the snakes and creepy crawlies of the Australian jungle to the homegrown variety in the Westminster jungle. Limahl whom I never heard of before this and I suspect I will not hear of him after this either. Linda Robson who made as much impact as a vegan at a burger bar. Cuddly corpulent Colin Baker who shed a good few pounds – just what the Doctor would have ordered.

There was also Helen Flanagan who gave us a selection of “Myleene Klass shower moments” but we didn’t reciprocate with votes. Rosemary Shrager big boisterous and bulldozed her way over her days in camp. Suave, Urbane and minted Hugo Tylor whom I am sure has lived in houses with vegetable patches bigger than the jungle camp. Eric Bristow, the cockney diamond geezer always up for a bit of banter but less keen on taking part in titillating Pussycat Doll routines.

This left us with Ashley Roberts, Charlie ‘Janine’ Brooks and David ‘The Hay Maker’ Haye, all very likable and nice people, but you can’t help feeling not the most interesting three of the bunch that started. Often that’s the problem with public voting on reality TV shows. The big more controversial characters tend to divide the public, you love them or loathe them.

While their are people who religiously vote for the big characters which sees them through the early rounds, invariably they fall by the way side as the number of contestants dwindle.

Out of this cull emerge those who are the least grating, the ones who you think “well if my favourite doesn’t win I won’t mind him or her winning”, the apparently pleasantly nice folk, who bitch but do so in a refined almost unnoticeable fashion. Who want to win so badly like everyone else, but never in a manner that you would notice. They are seemingly nice but not incredibly fascinating.

It is a problem for reality shows how do you sustain interest when you lose your Rylan and are left with your Jahmene.  You lose you rabbit rissotto and are left with your Ryvita. It is almost inevitable and just goes to show how hard it is to win from the extremes.

We see it in the X-Factor, The Apprentice, Big Brother and all the other shows. I call it the RFC – Reality Final Conundrum.

ITV News…”…who killed his landlady with an axe”. What purpose did this context serve?

19 Nov
Français : Alsace, Bas-Rhin, Strasbourg, Cour ...

European Court of Human Rights (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Watching the news yesterday my attention was caught by a story about whether prisoners should be given the right to vote. The European Court of Human Rights has recently passed a judgement requiring that some prisoners be given this right, this is at odds with current British law and against the coalition Government’s stated policy.

As would be expected the news item had opinions from both sides of the debate including one John Hurst a former Prisoner. Reasonable you would think, to have the opinion of a former prisoner on this issue, to give perspective from the prisoners side. More importantly he had also taken the government to the Human Rights court over this issue, so was well versed on the prisoners stance.

So why was he repeatedly introduced as “former prison John Hurst, who killed his landlady with an axe“.

What is the relevance of his crime to the news item. It is not as if some special dispensation is being asked for, or granted to murderers, nor is the case specifically about John Hurst. Irrespective of the rightness or wrongness of the issue, it certainly seems at odds with their obligation to give a balanced opinion on news items.

Judge for yourself if it seems relevant

I Am A Celebrity…How Do you Solve a Problem Like Helen Flanagan…

18 Nov

ITV’s ratings winner “I am a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here” has run into a big problem and it is causing the producers endless headaches. Simply put they have a problem with Helen Flanagan

For anyone who has never watched the show the premise is this.

  1. Pick a bunch of a bunch of “celebrities” who are looking to give their career a boost and earn some extra cash.
  2. Fly them out to Australia.
  3. Stick them in a “jungle” camp over there for three weeks. (In reality a camp built on the edge of a nature reserve).
  4. Put them on very basic food rations mainly rice and beans.
  5. Every day the public vote for one of the celebs to go through some sort of ritual humiliation (aka Bushtucker trial) to win more food for the camp. The trials range from eating Kangaroo testicles to crawling through bug infested slime.
  6. If doing the trail proves to be too much for the celebrity, they can yell out “I am a celebrity get me out of here” and the humiliation will end but obviously they will win nothing.
  7. If celebrity completes the trial successfully they win improved rations for the other celebrities back at the Camp.
  8. Next day repeat 5-7
  9. At the end of about two weeks of repeated celebrity humiliation the public start voting to kick out the celebrities they were least entertained by and the last man / woman standing is crowned King or Queen of the Jungle.

Now if all goes well the celebrities endure the rounds of humiliation, sometimes winning some times losing, but providing the show with lots of footage to keep the watching public entertained.

As most of the celebrities involved are only border line famous, a lot of pre-show publicity is required to raise awareness of who they are before it kicks off.  Some get more publicity than others and in the run up to this show a significant amount of publicity was given to ex-Coronation Street actress Helen Flanagan. In addition to endless shoots of her in her jungle kit,which she did look good in, much of the publicity was about the inordinate amount of things she was afraid of.

I suppose from ITV’s perspective she was the ideal celebrity a beautiful woman, guaranteed to provide oodles of amusing footage during bushtucker trials as wades through a pipe of slime, slugs and spiders a fetching two piece swimming suit.

It all seemed to be going to plan, the public were voting for Helen Flanagan  to do the trials day after day. The problem was Helen was not really playing ball, trial after trial she has either ignored the instructions, put in a half-hearted attempt or as we saw last night simply said she was not doing.

The problem now for ITV is that it seems to have a war of attrition on its hand. The viewers of the show are relentless in voting for Helen, and Helen in turn is becoming increasingly unapologetic about not doing the trails, leaving the producers with very little celebrity humiliation to pad out the show.

They’ve apparently tried to make the trails as easy as possible  and host Ant and Dec have cajoled, persuaded and pleaded with Helen to give the trials ago but it looks like it is not working and people are getting livid according to The Sun

An ITV source said: “The amount of time and effort to set up these trials is huge. “So it is infuriating for them to see that work go to waste.

This time the anger is so high producers are planning to use the trial again.”

The real big problem is unlike other days today’s trials is supposed to be beamed live and if Helen (who has been voted to do it again) wimps out they will be left with a significant amount of live broadcast time to fill in.

Looks like it is time for the production staff to really earn their keep, as they need to find a solution to this before tonight.

Holiday Home Sweet Home…Programme, Info-mercial or Advert?

17 Nov

It a damp, dull and dreary Saturday afternoon and to make it worse I have a bit of a flu. So taking it easy at home flicking through the channels when I come across a Holiday programme on ITV. What better way to take my mind away from the dreariness outside and be whisked away to dream locations for my next summer holiday.

Today there were back to back episodes of “Holiday Home Sweet Home” taking us through Idyllic holiday homes in South Wales and Devon. The programmes are fronted by Lisa Faulkner (Ex-Holby City and also a Celebrity Master Chef Winner). All good so far.

What I can’t help noticing is that unlike most other programmes of this type, it is does not focus on the people who are taking the holidays, nor the people who own the holiday homes but on the letting agents who are letting these homes.

Lisa talks to the letting agents and then takes on a tour of “the luxury awe-inspiring properties on their books”. As she guides us through the homes under the watchful eye of the agents, she gushes with superlatives on the desirability of the property.

We are taken in painstaking detail through all the details of the property marveling at luxurious en suite bedrooms, carefully restored exposed wooden beams, tasteful renovations that are sympathetic to the countryside, all with grinning boss of the letting agency hovering in the background.

It is all nicely done, but is it really a programme? How is this different from a series of advert for these letting companies? Do the letting companies pay for this or are they chosen to take part? How do they decide who to choose?

I Am a Celebrity…I hope MPs are not making these calls on expenses.

12 Nov

I Am A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here (IAMACGMOH) has started and early indications going by the column inches and the coverage are the early “stars” of the show are Nadine Dorries and Helen Flanagan.

Nadine had earned the ire of a lot of her fellow members of parliament for swanning off to Australia for at least a few weeks and maybe much more. She doesn’t seem to be missed though

MPs and Cabinet ministers, including Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles, tweeted that they had voted for Ms Dorries to face the humiliating task.


Mr Pickles mocked her last week and said he will be voting to keep her on the programme. Asked last night on Twitter if he had voted for Ms Dorries to take part in the bushtucker trial, he replied: “Yes, phone on speed dial.”


MPs from all parties were tweeting throughout last night’s programme, the first in the new series. Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch wrote: “Just received a Get Out The Vote message from the Whips #votedorries.”


Welsh Tory Alun Cairns added: “Official figures show that #iamacelebrity is the most watched programme in Westminster this evening.” Liberal Democrat Alistair Carmichael, MP for Orkney and Shetland, tweeted: “You have to think that if voting for Tories was this much fun in normal circumstances Scotland would have more than one Tory MP.”

Strictly versus X-Factor…Whats’s the nation watching

6 Nov

It is now an autumn TV tradition now. The head to head battle between Strictly Come Dancing and X-Factor.  For years X-Factor bigger, brasher and more “glittery” won at a canter.  Strictly though was a dogged foe, it was tenacious and arguably delivered a more consistent level of entertainment and it seems it is making a difference as Strictly has squeezed past, and stolen a lead on the X-Factor as the infographics below shows.


Strictly Come Dancing v X-Factor

Strictly Come Dancing v X-Factor

Lucy Spraggan exits the X-Factor

3 Nov

Lucy Spraggan has left the building! Well it was not totally unexpected. She been ill, She’d fallen out with the Producers over her antics with Rylan Clark and she had pretty much used up all her self-penned songs.

In a statement this evening. The X-Factor production team said

“Lucy isn’t well enough to perform this weekend so she has decided to withdraw from the competition.  We are all sorry to see her go and wish her all the best for the future. She has been a fantastic contestant.”

Lucy also released a statement saying

 ”I am gutted not to be able to continue on this journey but I’m not well enough to perform. To accept another free pass having missed last weekend would not be fair on the others in the competition. I wish them all well. I would like to express my thanks to everyone who has supported me. There is no way that this setback will prevent me from fulfilling my ambition. You’ll be hearing from me again very soon.”

The success on ITunes of the her songs which she performed during the auditions means she will probably have more chance than most to get a record deal. We’ll see how that develops.


X-Factor…Can we use Twitter to predict this week’s results?

3 Nov

One of the biggest developments to come out of the slew of reality TV programmes we have had over the last few years is the engagement between TV and social media. One of leaders in this regard is the X-Factor. In contrast to the traditional view of TV programme makers, this programmes have has gone out of its way to leverage all the outlets offered by digital and social media to reach out to its target audience.

All the contestants have Twitter and Facebook accounts they actively use to engage with their support base, at the end of programmes all the performances are loaded to YouTube to allow the audience relive the moments, and the programme strongly encourages its audience to interact with the show using Twitter and Skype. It is a positively 21st century show in this regard.

As the programme promotes itself with social media, but can I also use social media to find more about the programme. In particular can I use social media to predict the relative popularity of the contestants?

I have tried a little experiment for tomorrow’s progamme, to determine the most likely contestant to be in the bottom two on Sunday. The experiment data gathered mainly from Twitter is outlined below

No of Followers: I compare the number of followers each contestant has, this is the major input we use to determine popularity but it is not the only factor.

No of Tweets: I use the number of tweets to determine how much the contestants interact with their fan base. A higher level of interaction would encourage loyalty and loyalty is a strong indication of the willingness to vote.

Daily Mail mentions: This is an odd one, but I have to take into consideration that there are fans that are not active on social media and are influenced in other ways. In general these will be mainly from the older generation, a generation more in tune with the sensibilities of the Daily Dail.

We apply our formula to turn these into points by giving  a different weighting to the number of followers, the number of tweets posted, the dailymail mentions and  taking into consideration groups versus indivduals and this gives us the table below

X-Factor - Can twitter predict results?

X-Factor – Can twitter predict results?

Now this is only indicative and does not take into consideration the performance on Saturday night which can change the the popularity stakes significantly, but we are taking our measure before Saturday to see if popularity is a greater inidicator of who wins than actual performance.

By our reckoning the bottom two will come from Christopher Maloney, Kye Sones, District 3 and surprisingly Ella Henderson. Unexpectedly Rylan Clark looks very safe. It will be very interesting to see how accurate our prediction model is.