Tag Archives: Television

Secret Millions [Secret Millionaire Rebooted]…Channel 4

19 Mar

So let’s say I work in a Charity, social housing or some other part of the voluntary sector. Let’s say also my job is located in a former mining or industrial town somewhere up north that has seen better times. If one day a stranger appears out of nowhere with a camera crew in tow and tells me he or she is looking for some work experience and the crew are filming a documentary. Am I going to think “Secret Millionaire“? You’re damn right I would.

Secret millionaire has probably exhausted every ruse going and you even get the feeling in some of the later episodes that the people they met where pretty much going through the motions till the cheque turned up.

So how do you reboot a franchise that relies on that sort of deception. Well there is always Celebrity Secret Millionaire or Secret Millions as channel 4 now calls it. The twist is the celebrity is not pretending to be someone else, but instead needs to get people involved in a project to an extent that will convince the Big Lottery Fund to give them further funding.

This weeks episode feature TV architect George Clarke aka The Restoration Man and project was to get a bunch of London youths involved in a building apprentice scheme that would see them restore one of London’s thousands of abandoned properties back to a livable condition.

The youth were an assortment of young offenders and troubled teenagers. Including one chap, who had never left London before and never seen a cow either. His delight when he saw one was heart warming. It was somewhat more worrying when he couldn’t tell a cow and horse apart, and probably explains some of the problem’s in the meat industry.

The youngsters were a bit reluctant as the project kicked off but certainly the ones they featured really seemed to get into the whole thing and their sense of pride when the building was completed renovated was a clear to see.  Along the way we saw some real bonds develop between the youths and their mentors, the sort of bonds they clearly missed in parts of the earlier life. We saw the youths realise that there were opportunities for them through apprenticeship schemes in the building industry with support like that demonstrated in the programme.

So how do you do a big reveal in a situation like this? Typically on the old school secret millionaire, the millionaire went back revealed who he was and started doling out cheques, that obviously would not work in the case as everyone knows who the celebrity is.

That’s where the Lottery steps in.  George Clarke took the whole team to a swanky conference centre supposedly for a lecture on London architecture but it was a ruse for an opportunity for the The Big Lottery Fund’s spokesman to step in and announce funding of £1.7 million.

George Clark who had been very emotional through out the the programme was pretty much a blubbering wreck by this point.

The programme sent out a strong positive message about tackling youth unemployment and training opportunities, but there are serious challenges even for a laudable project like this. The construction industry is in recession, and British workers face fierce competition from experienced and cheaper skilled labour from Eastern Europe. Let’s hope are youthful apprentices are given the support needed to get through these challenges.

Gogglebox…Who’s watching who?

14 Mar

Sometimes you go to a hairdressers and they have mirrors on both sides of the wall and you look into one mirror and you see a reflection of your refection from the other mirror effectively a DIY infinity mirror.

Channel 4′s GoggleBox reminds me of that. We are watching people on TV watching programmes on TV, if one of the programmes they are watching ends up being GoggleBox there is a real and imminent danger we will all then become locked into a infinite never ending episode of the programme, so watch GoggleBox with caution.

Like all programmes about TV GoggleBox is a bit narcissistic, but nonetheless it has its entertaining moments. It is kind of like a less funny, but real version of the Royale Family. We see Britain’s diverse domestic units gathered around TV, families with kids, families without kids, friends, lovers and more.

All are entranced by what’s on TV which has been the centre of our domestic life for decades. Often the insights programmes like this give us are not just what we know, that everyone has an opinion on what is on TV, but the changing way we watch TV.

Increasingly we compliment what we are watching of TV with active or casual surfing, checking what the internet, social media, wikipedia and such have to say on a topic we are watching. On Gogglebox we saw Ipads and phones used by the by our TV watchers to check the amount of money winning crufts gets you, and when Pistorius last twitted amongst others. Fact Checking, as Americans referred to it, is now the order of the day. So TV programme makers beware!







Interesting side observation. why did one of the Guys from the Siddiqui family always watch TV in a suit? He clearly takes it a bit seriously.

BBC…Africa. The Greatest Giraffe Fight You’d Ever Have Seen…

2 Jan

There is one universal truth that everyone should acknowledge. The day Sir David Attenborough leaves the BBC there will be a huge void in nature and wildlife programming. His smooth slightly melodic voice is so synonymous with high quality wildlife programming, it is almost unthinkable to have one with out him.

Tonight he brought us the first programme in the new series ‘Africa‘ and it was stupendously good. Words can not do it justice. If you missed it hop onto BBC IPlayer and catch up.

The film sequences were sumptuous  Some of the scenes were BAFTA winning.

The fight between the two giraffes for instance, an old male bull and a young upstart. Furious, startling and beautifully filmed it will live in my memory for a long time and I am not sure I will look at giraffes in the same light again.

Then there was the palpable tension as a young leopard stalked a stemboch .  The leopard learning to fend for itself for the first time and the stemboch, twitchy and nervous.  This time around the Leopard’s naivety got the better of him, but it was close

We saw cuddly baby ostriches cutely waddling their way to a watering hole, a watering hole that appeared almost biblical as all of Africa’s wildlife seemed to have descended for a drink at the same time. A multicultural gathering only interrupted by a pride of brawling lions more intent on fighting amongst themselves than anything else.

The programme also reaffirmed as if we needed reminding how cruelly Machiavellian nature can be. We saw a wasp  stranded in the desert looking for any place with moisture to lay her eggs, where better than in the moist body of a living spider. Her evil plans however were thwarted as it turns out this particular spider has super-human (if that’s the right phrase) cartwheeling abilities and was not ready to become a living incubator for anyone as it cartwheeled to safety down the dunes of the mighty Kalahari.

A great programme, but with David Attenborough nothing less is expected.