My earlier gripe that the show was too blokey still stands to a degree though this is a criticism that it’s proving hard to justify in the face of great turns from Nina Sosanya and Tracey Ann Cyberman and latterly from Eva Pope now that she’s finally out of that blessed coma. Mark Womack has again proved he can do broody with a dark secret very well while Hugo Speer and Neil Dudgeon have impressed as they have wrestled with the destructive love triangle at the heart of the narrative.
All in all this is proving to be one of the drama highlights and if is derivative of Manc dramas that have gone before, I suppose I can live with it when the quality is as good as this.
Have they got news for us?
This thing I was banging on about last week about news presenters fronting bulletins from the scene of the drama took on new relevance this week as the tale of the terrorist threat to flights led to a plethora of camera crews descending on the nation’s airports and bizarrely, hosting the main evening news shows from Heathrow while at the same time telling people who weren’t flying out not to attend the airport so that they didn’t add to the congestion. Odd.
What possible weight does it add to have Mark Austin (or whoever, ITV News presenters are all beginning to resemble each other these days) perched at one of the terminals and Huw Edwards at the other to link reports from the reporters that were also crawling all over the place to capture passengers' misery?
This is getting out of hand now, with GMTV’s John Stapleton stuck on a balcony in the Middle East one day and standing in what looked like a taxi rank at Heathrow the next. Poor Penny Smith looked at bit left out, stuck on the sofa on her own, but I really can see no value in having the presenters on the spot, especially when the place is already teeming with correspondents.
While radio reflected the level of scepticism about the level of response to the alert in many communities, television brought us very little of this, at least not on the day when it all kicked off, which is a fairly simple example of TV being hogtied by its visual nature while the other medium, unable to show queues of harassed holidaymakers clutching clear plastic bags, were obliged to fill the time with their listeners points of view, which were very varied indeed. TV bosses agonise over their rolling news service being the one we should turn to in times of crisis; these days I’m far more inclined to have the telly on as a secondary image source and use both radio and the internet to get the crux of the story.
TV news is expensive to produce and if it can’t get a handle on giving a full picture of events such as this, it will continue to lose customers to both new and indeed older media, which could put its very existence in jeopardy.
There is no clearer sign of this than at troubled ITV, no longer able to provide a commercially viable rolling news service but forced this week to mobilise its emergency rolling news team for the first time since the demise of the dedicated service. Incidentally, my spell checker wanted to change the word “dedicated” to “decimated” and I was half inclined to let it.
Although the terrorist plot was a big story, I’d question whether it justified a mid morning news special when surely a few extra brief bulletins would have been just as informative than what we actually got.
There have been suggestions, right or wrongly, that political spin was in operation here. Radio, the printed media and the internet seem to me to be far less susceptible to this than TV news, having the time and space to analyse the issues. Television may have some serious catching up to do if it is to retain credibility in a world awash with information and admittedly misinformation.
We need to be very aware that the images we see on our screens are sanitised. On British screens, when a village is destroyed by shelling, we get shown scenes of the rubble. In other nations, including many of our European partners, the true human cost and hence the horror is graphically depicted.
I still hear people (many of them from older generations) say the likes of “it must be true, I saw it on the news”, though younger people seem to be more sceptical. However while it leads some to take a keener interest in finding out more, it merely disenfranchises many others and this is a worry.
While British athletes struggled gamely with their European counterparts and the ghosts of British athletes past in Gothenburg this week, mainly on high profile BBC Two, a really tense match between two British sporting superstars was taking place on Sky Sports as Henman took on Andy Murray. You’d think that there would have been a big blurb of publicity about this clash of the British Titans but oddly for a television company that built a lot of its success on well timed promotion, this classic of the tennis warriors went out virtually unnoticed, as did Murray’s gutsy straight sets victory against Carlos Moya the following night.
When these gems come up it would be good if the publicity department at Sky could flag them to potentially interested viewers and not just hope that we find out by accident while surfing.
As someone who really can’t stomach keeping up with Love Bucket on a regular basis, all the comings and goings can be a bit on the confusing side. Indeed there’s been such a churn of cast that the whole thing now just seems to be an unholy mess with no signs of getting any better and Kielty and Cotton are starting to look increasingly desperate, well aware that they are flogging a dead horse. Or maybe that’s just on the episodes I’ve been unlucky enough to catch.
The reality shows keep on flowing and it was worth catching How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? just for Graham Norton’s wonderfully bitchy announcement that Emilie had decided to take no further part in the show. It’s sad that the format offers so few opportunities for his edgy brand of humour to shine through. Perhaps it’d be better if Barrowman presented and Norton judged.
Her replacement Siobhan sounded to us here at Hogan Towers like a fog horn, not that the judges in the studio seemed to notice. Vocal coach Zoe dished out a few barbs but given that it’s actually her job to train these voices, it felt a bit to me like she was actually criticising herself.
Given the public’s habit of picking people with personality over talent, I do wonder whether this barmy process will actually produce a winner who can produce the goods night after night on stage . I hope they’ve got a good understudy lined up.
I like the idea of the red button karaoke option because when there is a particularly bad singer, at least you can drown them out with your own caterwauling.
This show goes head to head with The X Factor from next week in a move which can only bad news for fans that are likely to want to enjoy both shows. Certainly in a straight battle, the boring Maria judges have nothing on Louis, Sharon and the other one.
The X Factor warm up show, showing us what happened to last year’s entrants was an enjoyable enough appetiser from the new season though not quite enough to get me to put that Journey South album on.
Thin line between love and hate
Currently I’m loving: creepy Henry on Lost, the Dingles protecting Sam on Emmerdale, for all it’s many foibles, The Story of Light Entertainment, Jeff Stelling back on Saturday afternoons, the Fox family in EastEnders, even Squiggle.
Currently I'm hating: Worrall Thompson who seems to be everywhere (I found him on four channels simultaneously on Saturday morning), Sophie Webster, the hype surrounding Dragon’s Den, though not the show itself, Rosie Webster, BBLB, Sonia from Eastenders, Sally Webster and all these trailers for The One Show.