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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.

TV News….Nelson Mandela Passes Away Aged 95 [5th Dec 2013]

5 Dec

I was watching More 4 and it has just been announced that the former President of South Africa and revered statesman Nelson Mandela has passed away.

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela died aged 95. I expect most channels will broadcast a lot of tributes and obituaries over the next few days to Mandela, hopefully it wont stray into Diana-esque proportions.

The Royal Baby Boy [The Prince of Cambridge]…So much news about so little news (Part II)

23 Jul

Yesterday was just like an appetizer for today. Today the news networks and BBC went over and above the call of duty in their attempt to report on every little facet of information about the new Royal Baby…HRH Prince No Name.

And when there was nothing to report we were treated to lingering shots of hospital doorways where people of import may or may not be entering or exiting.

Occasional they did hit jackpot when they grabbed an interview with either one of the royals (major or minor) or  the Middletons.

On the Middletons, I am sure the they would have been ecstatic about a grand daughter whatever the circumstance but when they were being interviewed today I couldn’t help but think this scene from Eddie Murphy’s  ”Coming from America” must be running around in their heads.

He got his own money and, baby, when I tell you he’s got his own money, I mean the boy has gotten his own money!

A prince. He’s a prince!Oh, Lisa, you did it this time. You hit the jackpot. Your little goat herder makes Darryl look like a welfare case!

The Royal Baby Boy [The Prince of Cambridge]…So much news about so little news.

22 Jul

The British People have a new future king as Prince William and Kathrine have they first baby boy…and that is essentially the news tonight. So why has the BBC spun in out into a never ending rolling news special so far clocking up 2 hours with no interruptions.

They are telling us over and over either things we already know, have no interest in knowing or simply don’t want to know.

All sorts of  special guests, experts, royal commentators are being rolled in front of the camera largely telling us the same thing in different ways and invariably it is an opportunity to replay endless clips from the archive about Princess Diana.

Congratulations to William and Catherine. To the media it has only been 2 hours and we are already drowning in the media saturation.

Channel 4 News…Django Director Tarantino shuts Krishnan Guru-Murthy’s butt down – “You’re not my master”

13 Jan
Quentin Tarantino at the 82nd Academy Awards, ...

Quentin Tarantino(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Quentin Tarantino was in town to promote his latest film Django about a slave-turned-bounty hunter who sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.

The film featuring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio has won rave reviews and Oscar nominations, but there is not escaping that in common with many other Tarantino movies there is a considerable level of violence an aspect the Channel Four newcaster Guru-Murthy was keen to explore.

Tarantino on the other hand was not to keen to explore any linkage between violence in movies and real life violence. Cue a very explosive and forthright interview with more than few choice quotes.

Normally these interviews for films are sychophantic and boring, but this was definitely not!

and just to make sure we don’t upset Mr Tarantino, cos he might shut our butts down here is the trailer for Django

BBC News mistakenly identifies Aussie DJ Mel Greig as ‘Geri Haliwell. Spice Girl’

10 Dec

The two Aussie DJs, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, who made the prank phone call that is alleged to have led to the apparent suicide of royal nurse Jacintha Saldhana this morning gave interviews to Australian TV over their distress and regret over the whole affair.

Given the interest in the UK it was no surprise that the news item was the lead headline on BBC’s Ten O’Clock News, what was a bit of a surprise was the BBC mistakenly labeling the VT when focused on Mel Grieg as “Geri Haliwell. Spice Girl”.

At least it wasn’t Geri Halliwell

Double Ooops!

Mel Grieg mistakenly labelled as Geri Haliwell on BBC News

Mel Grieg mistakenly labelled as Geri Haliwell on BBC News

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

BBC..Have I Got News for You Nigel Farage

9 Nov

When Sgt Brodie is not planning to wreck revenge on America’s Military Industrial complex he is quite a funny guy or at least his alter-ego is. Damien Lewis was back on our screens as the host on topical news show – Have I got News For You.

The show was celebrating ten years since Angus Deayton was sacked, or as the BBC preferred to promote it ten years since guest presenters have hosted the programme. Panel guests were Harry Shearer who is known to fans of The Simpsons as the voice of Montgomery Burns. Also joining regulars Ian Hislop and Paul Merton was Nigel Farage, the public face of the UK Independence Party (UKIP).

While I think the programme as a whole is on the wane, tonight’s episode was quite amusing. There were the inevitable jokes from the big story of the week, the US election and it was pretty much open season on Mitt Romney who bore the brunt of most jokes.

His perceived aloofness and his gaffes provided most of the humour. A recurring joke in this segment picked up on some of the more extremist Romney gaffes, like the infamous 47% video, and Damien would turn to Farage to ask what UKIP thought of such right-wing craziness.

Other stories where the exposure of Labour MP Denis McShane for alleged false expense claims. It seems this chap and Farage have history, as Farage took a lot of delight in mocking Mr McShane’s ‘misfortune’.

Although I am not sure if Harry Shearer was brought on for any particular reason (maybe the US elections), but I was beginning to see a trend with Farage. The show moved on onto the saga of ‘Mad Nad’ – Tory MP Nadine Dorries who for some reason thinks she can best serve the interest of her constituents from thousands of miles away in the Australian jungle where she will appear on the soon to start ‘I am a celebrity get me out of here’. Again there was a Farage connection.

For her sins ‘Mad Nad’ has been suspended from Conservative parliamentary party, and there were rumours of her moving to UKIP, Farage did not exactly appear to welcome her with open arms.

Like I said good episode and it looks like there is still some occassional burst of life in the programme.

BBC NEWS….4 More years for Obama and America’s Happy Warrior.

7 Nov
Official portrait of Vice President of the Uni...

America’s Happy Warrior

Ok. I know I slated BBC for its excess election coverage but despite not wanting to I did eventually get sucked into the election coverage.

The Americans just do it so much better than we do. A whooping cheering, back slapping, high five-ing acceptance speech at a convention center in Chicago is somewhat different from a speech in a Tamworth Methodist Church Hall.

As expected President Obama’s acceptance speech was an oratory masterpiece, but the high point for me was the introduction of America’s Happy Warrior – Vice President Joe Biden.  If there are after-election parties and there’s one with Joe Biden and Bill Clinton, that’s where I want to be at!

BBC News….I am tired of ‘Bronco Bama’ and ‘Mitt Romney’

3 Nov

She may just be a few years old but like me she is tired of  the ‘Bronco Bama’ and ‘Mitt Romney’  Don’t get me wrong the USA remains the most important country in the world. The policies it pursues have an impact on all our lives, and while we have no say in who America votes for, who they vote for matters to us all.

The BBC it seems is keen to let us know they know it matters and are deluging us with election reports fro the USA, we never get the same level of reports from France, Germany, India or any of the other important democracies, plus the US elections have peculiarities that make the coverage we receive somewhat unappealing.

One problem with the US elections is the election cycle is so drawn out. It is somewhat understandable given the historical context of the need for then young democracy to engage a dispersed rural population across a huge country in  choosing candidates for the Presidential election, but it is still interminably long.

The first primary was the Republican Primary back in Iowa on Jan 3rd, 2012. This was also the point at which the elections made their way into the BBC’s news cycle and this though, initially occasional and sporadic  quickly grew in breadth.

From the news coverage we learnt about Herman Cain’s unexpected rise to popularity and spectacular downfall. We saw the failed attempt by the comeback kid Newt Gringrich. We wondered if Americans would really put forward Tea Party favorite Michelle Bachmann as a Presidential candidate, and we watched as a resurgent Mitt Romney eventually dispatched rival Rick Santorum. That was just the the Republican Primaries and all this had gone on for six months, played out on BBCs news bulletins.

We should actually count ourselves lucky as the  Democratic party  were simply going to re-endorse President Obama as their candidate or it would have been twice as much. Notwithstanding, all this was essentially an under-card compared to the main event – The  Presidential Election between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama and without skipping a beat we were plunged, coverage-wise, straight into this.

This is where we get on to the second problem. The American electorate is so finely divided between the two main parties,  the Republican and Democratic party. This means that they are really only a minority of votes in comparison to the voting population that are actually up for grabs.  To win the hearts and minds of  these voters both parties indulge in negative campaigning to a degree that is unheard of this side of the Atlantic.

An infamous example of this is the Willie Horton Ad from the 1988 election.  You just can’t imagine Cameron or Miliband putting out an ad like this, or being allowed to.

What this means ultimately is that the fear of making a mistake is probably the biggest fear of both candidates, out go any bold policy statements, out go any principle stances on significant issues, what you get instead is political shadow boxing. Each candidate dancing cleverly around the issues for fear that anything too bold can be seized upon and turned into a negative ad.

So with no substantial policies being debated, with no real insight into what direction America will head after the election, what is the coverage by the BBC giving us. Regurgitation of endless election polls and ”polls of polls’, inane vox pop chatter,and political navel gazing by an assortment of pundits.

Over the next few days it is only going to get worse. The BBC  have mobilised a whole team of correspondents in to fan across America and they deployment has to be justified by increased coverage

Jonny Dymond (Boston)
Paul Adams (Chicago)
Alastair Leithead (Las Vegas)
Rajesh Mirchandani (Colorado Springs)
Laura Trevelyan (Miami)
Ian Pannell (Boston)
Philippa Thomas (Chicago)
Jon Sopel (Richmond, Virginia)
Michelle Fleury (New York)
Clive Myrie (Cleveland)

One wonders what are they going to be reporting on ?