Monday, 27 April 2009

How to save public service broadcasting. Ish.

OK, so I've had an idea. It's probably not that original, but it is workable and could help generate some extra dosh to help the areas of telly that need a bit more investment. Regional news, current affairs, children's telly - with the latter I, as usual, declare my self interest as someone who makes lovely programmes for the wee nippers.

It's not rocket science, but it could be implemented quickly, and it has the benefit that the commercial broadcasters have been pushing for it for a while - if not in the form I'm proposing.

It's a three step plan:-

Just say yes to allowing ITV, C4, Five, Sky and all to have companies pay them to use their brand of product on a show. Watch American Idol clips online - do the Coca-Cola cups and ads behind Ryan Seacrest's tiny head really make the show a disgrace? Just like The X Factor or Britain's Got Talent, this show exists simply to create a star that makes money for Simon Cowell and co., so it's just an exercise in product placement (ie the potential star in our minds) anyway.

No product placement on kids' TV, or current affairs, or where there's a conflict with editorial issues/impartiality etc: simple, sensible rules.

Ta-dah! That's it! Any money they raise they've got to spend IN ADDITION TO CURRENT FUNDING on regional stuff, current affairs or kids.

Would you care if Ken Barlow asked for a pint of Boddingtons instead of a jug of Newton & Ridley in the Rovers' Return? It would make Corrie seem more real to me. Well, slightly less surreal - let's face it, that soap has many good qualities, but realism ain't one of 'em.

And if a daytime makeover show said "this lovely Ikea kitchen", or "this bedroom suite from John Lewis", would the world collapse?

Of course not. And if it could pay for a few original UK-sourced childrens' programmes, some regional current affairs shows and/or news, surely that's a real Billy Bonus? Someone from ITV said (hey, I'm not that good a researcher, obvious innit?) that sponsorship didn't raise much initially but not it's £50m - that's a lot of Spotlight North-Easts I'd think.

Obviously there are wrinkles - why would the broadcasters bother to push for this funding if they couldn't use it for what they want? Well, put a limit on the money raised, and say anything under that goes on PSB stuff, anything over can be spent on 'owt: Ant'n'Dec's salaries, executive bathrooms or more episodes of Family Fortunes With Vernon Kay. I'm sure PACT, Save Kids' TV and other bodies can get together and help the government come up with a figure.

What if the public hates the fact, say, everyone on an ITV drama series drives a Ford? Limit it to three years, then review it. If the public hate it, scrap it.

We'd be like American TV - blantant plugs, nasty ads, yadda blah bleurgh. Hmmm.. really? 24 has every car being a Ford for example, Ford even sponsoring entire episodes without ads. Desperate Housewives is apparently packed full of product placement - I don't watch it so can't vouch for it, but a lot of people I know watch it ironically, and clumsy plugs for products would surely spoil that?

The only downside is the poor guy who has to pixellate the Coca-Cola cups on ITV2's repeats of American Idol would lose his job. Sad... but surely he's going a bit crazy after putting a circular blur on a cup frame-by-frame for hours and hours and hours. It'd be a kind thing to do really.

I've written to Culture Secretary Andy Burnham suggesting all this - hey, there's a productive morning! Now back to writing a show with Adair Bear in it.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Telly telly on the wall

So, as per usual, I'm the last person in the world to post my opinion on New Who last weekend. Been snowed under with a billion things - here I am on a Thursday afternoon having already put in forty hours' work this week... and Monday was a Bank Hol...

Anyhow, my opinions on Who...

Yes, Mr Tennant's hair was as good as always, the desert sun didn't wilt it and it look magnificently coiff'd and gee'd and spike'd. Phew.

Did you get any sense they were somewhere exotic or new? It was just some sand. They could've filmed it in a studio and CG'd on something much better. Waste of money.

No ta Michelle Ryan, the least convincing 'Lady' since David Walliams put on a frock... worst acting since Ray Alan's Lord Charles** ... hated, hated, HATED her. Mind you, didn't like Billie Piper in the first few eps... really hated Catherine Tate in her first Xmas spesh... loved Freema from day one though. Hmmm.

The story was a bit poor, not quite as funny as Russell T's usual efforts. The SFX were patchy - sorry, but the flying bus looked awful, HD or no HD. Them fly monsters were proper Olde Skool Who creatures, just a mask and two moving prongs - I liked that in a retro stylee. Lee Evans - meh, doing his usual schtick, although the lines about naming units after himself was funny. Nasty Evil Unit Boss was a good actor I thought, and the bus lot were fine if hardly in it and barely sketched out.


It was New Who! It flew past! Great Mission Impossible opening! Hints of what's to come in the future! Nice end scene telling Porsche Ladeeeh to fack orf! This is what telly is about for me, ideas and jokes and BRITISHNESS and that.

Right, back to making the telly instead of writing about it. Although it's all mobile, interweb and movies for me nowadays, with some telly stuff on the side. Weird, huh?

* Ryan's Daughter was a movie so it's sort of a pun on it
**Google 'em. Lord Charles was a wooden dummy. Point made.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Spring TV

Sorry for not posting much recently - to be frank I've been a bit busy and, er, um, cough... haven't actually been watching much tv at all. There's a first.

Other random observations:-

Sooooo looking forward to NEW DOCTOR WHO!!!1!! over the weekend, how cool is that? Or, rather, how hot is that as it was filmed in Dubai.

Questions about it:-
  • With it not being in "the BBC sandpit" (all the Old Who fans are smiling), has it made a difference to the atmosphere of the ep?
  • A double-decker bus in the desert - is that wise?
  • And, most importantly, has the extreme heat of Dubai flattened Mr Tennant's lovely lovely hairdo? His hair is one of the modern wonders of the world. If he ever endorsed a hair gee surely any man would be a fool not to buy it? Or bald like me...

Notice how Antiques Roadshow has crept up the schedules from 5:45pm on Sun when I was a kid to a full-on primetime 8pm slot now? (WHISPERS) It's cheap and does well...

South Park is now high def, and it looks different. Whereas The Simpsons improved a bit, SP just looks, er, different. This is the anti-animation cartoon, where they purposely move the characters crudely and make them look like they're cut-outs when the series is actually made on whizzy fast powerful computers. Tidying it up is odd. Not bad, not good, just... different.

Right, off to the pub (obviously) - have got a Tivo full of things to watch, although admittedly mainly episodes of Mad Men. Not that I'm complaining on that score, still such a great series, but the sort of thing I can only watch one of at a time. Maybe it's the smoking. Or the occasional wearing-of-hats (and you all know my hat-o-phobia).

I have to clear the Tivo as at some point over the next couple of weeks... (GASP)... (PANT) we're having... (SIGH) Sky+ and... (GULP) Sky HD installed. Scream! It means my lovely six-foot-long Italian designer TV unit that I got off the interwebs will merely have a BluRay and a SkyHD+ box and nothing else. Compared to a DVD player, Tivo, Sky box and old VHS recorder that fitted in it perfectly. Tsk.

This is a dilemma for a man with a hatred of clutter and ornaments.

What to do?