Freeview (almost) in the palm of my hand
As well as Sky I’ve now populated Freeview boxes everywhere else in Hogan Towers but the one remaining thing to sort out was my little handheld telly, something I decided to rectify this week.
I’ve got myself a little 3” Freeview set and it would be perfect if it was capable of picking up the amazingly elusive digital signal. Being in Birmingham I wouldn’t have thought it would be that difficult because it’s hardly the back of beyond.
The gizmo came with an “external aerial” which is effectively a bit of bent wire with a magnet stuck to the end. This improved matters from no signal at all to the occasional frozen frame of Charlie Stait in BBC News 24. Hardly the futuristic and exciting stuff I’d been hoping for. Mind you, the whole point of a handheld is its portability and you look a right plum waving the aerial about in the vain hope of achieving some sort of reception.
I tried the set in various locations but it was only at Villa Park during the Villa – Manchester City game that I managed to get anything like a reliable picture and even that was a bit hit and miss. It did allow us the joys of Sky Sports News to keep track of the other scores while our own team was being played off the park. An attempt to watch the final scores from the car park proved fruitless.
So it seems that Freeview on the move is a bit of a pipe dream at the moment though this is probably a major plus to those companies who want us to pay for mobile TV over our phones.
For more on telly through your phone check out Weekend Spy.
If the head honcho of Sainsbury’s suddenly jumped ship to run Tesco’s, I doubt it would even make most news bulletins, certainly not the one on five which seems to be completely Ashes obsessed. Michael Grade’s decision to move from BBC to ITV was the lead on all our domestic news outlets, a clear example of how those in telly are carried away with their own importance and out of touch with the average viewer. Editorial decisions like this will do no harm to their international rivals.
Grade’s move to a more hands-on role at ITV may prove to be good news to the viewers. Though the role of the master scheduler has diminished in the age of multichannels, multimedia and PVRs, poor scheduling can still make or break an ITV show. Too many dramas in particular have been poorly positioned and then consigned to the dustbin when the viewers don’t cotton on. I believe there are still episodes of Ultimate Force that remain unscreened because some bright spark decided to run the show on Saturday when much of the core audience would be out for the evening.
A classic example of Grade’s ability to rescue a show was the sitcom Bread which had initially run out to poor audiences on Thursday nights. Grade noticed that appreciation figure for the show was high. i.e. those that did tune in really enjoyed it. Grade moved the show to a prime Sunday slot and increased the episode order for series two to give the thing a chance to grow and it rapidly became a runaway success.
His appointment is likely to be a fillip to programme makers and hopefully the kind of decision making that let great stuff like Jane Hall slip through the cracks will be less in evidence.
As for the BBC, I don’t think there will that much genuine handwringing over the departure of a man who would probably rather have been Director General than Chairman in any case.
The Not Paul O’Grady Show
I’m all for Paul O’Grady looking after his health but I hope they can find a more permanent stand in for his weeks off because the guest hosts are so hit and miss. Judith Chalmers gave a performance so stilted and stuffy that it seemed to set daytime television back thirty years and there were moments when it felt more like a Victoria Wood sketch than the genuine article.
My favourite of the week was Paddy McGuinness who seemed determined to have fun and send himself up and the atmosphere that created made it feel much more like the regular show. He’s not best interviewer but he managed to have a decent conversation with Emma Bunton – no mean feat – while being prepared to go to any lengths to get a laugh. It was great fun.
I nearly didn’t bother going to see Flushed Away this weekend because of the slating given to it by Jonathan Ross on Film 2006. I wonder if Ross saw the same edit as I did because it’s such a short film that I’m amazed anyone has time to get bored and there are so many visual gags in the background that you’d probably have to watch the thing two or three times to catch them all.
Ross continued to get on my nerves in a very flat episode of Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, a show which seems to be increasingly about his ego rather than eliciting interesting info from his guests.
Dylan Moran just seemed vaguely irritated to be there and unimpressed by Ross’s rambling while Nigella Lawson did marvellously well in keeping her dignity and composure while faced with the host 's crude and unfunny innuendos. He was rude about her food too which is certainly ungracious.
When his guests are prepared to play up to his ego, it can be an entertaining show but this week – as in too many others in this run – the whole sorry mess smacked of self indulgence. Frankly I’d rather they gave Graham Norton a run out in that slot and gave the poor over worked and under paid Mister Ross a bit of a break.
It’s shame in way that An Audience with Take That was live because what was a very good show could have been a great one with a bit of judicious editing, mainly by cutting out the questions from the celebrities which merely got in the way, in particular the bit with Peter Kay who rambled on like there was no tomorrow. Neither his bit nor that of Al Murray raised a smile here, though they are normally two of the funniest blokes on the telly.
ITV2 jumped on the bandwagon by screening a date from their tour straight afterwards, though this meant hearing the same songs as on the ITV1 show once again which showed a bit of a lack of forethought.
I know we’ve been plagued by adverts for Christmas since the late summer but now things have spread to the music channels. Flicking through them has become a dangerous game because there’s always the chance you’ll inadvertently catch a bit of Mistletoe and Wine or, if you’re particularly unlucky, Shakin’ Stevens or one of several versions of When A Child Is Born doing the rounds.
Let It Snow
More welcome has been the cracking Snow Patrol gig that played for the best part of a week on BBCi. The interactive service is easily overlooked but is a great place to catch some really special musical performances with BBC One Sessions from the likes of Paul Simon and Elton John featuring in recent months.
I suppose the impact on commercial channels will prevent there being a fully fledged BBC music channel, which is a pity, but surely their extensive archive could be better used? How about a UKTV Music channel for example? I’m sure people would love the opportunity to see classic episodes of Whistle Test, Later and The Proms.
That old stick in the mud
EastEnders managed a rare feat with the Ian and Jane wedding debacle because the mud wrestling scene managed to be hysterically funny and rather moving at the same time.
I didn’t blame Jane for not turning up to the nuptials, mainly because that frock was hideous even before she managed to get it soaking wet. Hasn’t anyone in Walford ever heard of a brolley? I hope we haven’t seen the last of brilliant Lynda Baron who revelled in the role of Jane’s hard faced mother because Pauline’ imminent departure leaves a vacancy in the battleaxe department that Denise is too young to fill just yet.
I can’t wait to see the back of Pauline, who has taken bitter and twisted to new levels in recent years and the pain she’s putting her nearest and dearest through with this daft fake brain tumour just doesn’t ring true from a character who has always put family above everything else. After her years of sterling service, Wendy Richard deserved a more believable exit strategy.
I’m not sure what planet Robin Williams is on but he certainly is out of phase with this one and Parkinson wisely chose not to try to make sense of his weird stream of consciousness on a bizarre episode of his chat show.
Sadly Ben Elton had earlier chosen to throw in a few prostate gags and Daniel Craig looked bemused by the whole experience.
Very odd indeed.