Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Twitter: The Early Years (1786-2007)

Now, we’re not claiming this is mindblowing investigative journalism. Why, it’s churnalism at best (see how we try and impress you by making it clear that we’ve read Flat Earth News. Did it work? Oh). Here’s a look at what Twitter used to look like, because we’ve had the idea of looking at it through web.archive.org:

(Note: as the moderately perceptive amongst will notice, not all images were captured by Archive.org’s special science nets. It’s enough to give you a good idea of the overall design, though, and you can click to see the bigger versions.)

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June 1786: Not many people know this, but the original Twitter was a sheet of parchment kept outside the door of hostelries. On this parchment, passing merchants could leave messages on what they were up to, proving they were of 140 scrawls or less. Of course, soon afterwards the industrial revolution meant people were too busy being bricked up in chimneys by their bosses after turning up three minutes late to their Spinning Jenny, leaving little time to partake in such fripperies.

Not really, of course. That’s just us doing a funny joke. Well, an attempt at one. Here’s the proper look back.

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March 2001: Still a several years away from being a glint in the eye of Ian Twitter Jack Dorsey, the domain is under the control of moustache-twirling domain hogs. “Oh no! Will Dorset be able to seize control of the domain name, or will we all end up using a social network called something else?” you might be saying at this point, if you’re the sort of person who wonders if Queen Victoria will survive the werewolf attack when watching Doctor Who.

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February 2005: Worst. Logo. Ever. Still some way from being ready, this holding page doesn’t really give the impression of "Impending Global Phenomenon". In case you’re wondering, that email address link points at prm@9252.com, which is similarly unimpressive. Now, Twitter.com (the current company) weren't formed until 2006, so it’s quite possible whoever prm@9252.com is made an absolute fortune out of flogging the domain name. Top tip: email them and ask them for some money.

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October 2006: The first chirps of Twitter proper, presumably using messages from beta users. User “Promote” proclaims “Just added Twitter to my MySpace”. Now there’s a sentence future generations will point at and say “Mum, what’s a MySpace?” Not a joke. MySpace will go the way of Boo.com by the end of next year, you’ll see.

The original public timeline from this incarnation of the network is still online, too. It includes gems such as “awake far too early :(“, “Sleep!”,Just chilling” and “um well yeah i hate jon hes a jerk”. Plus ca change, eh? It’s worth noting that of the “last 200 tweets” (that's Tweets from the whole of then-Twitterdom) on this page, they stretch back around seven full hours. In modern day Twitter there are single users that approach that amount of Tweet output on some working days.

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November 2006: It’s looking a lot more familiar now, possibly only one set of working background images from being recognisable as Twitter.

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January 2007: There we go. Not sure if “Chris Applegate” is the former star of Married... With Children, or just some bloke called Chris.

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March 2007: The site reverts to including Tweets on the front page, but this time recent messages plucked at random, and made available to the global audience. So, now everyone gets to know that @Kasper is “about to take a dump”.

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See? There's classy!

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December 2007: Archive.org’s Wayback process stops getting on with the Twitter site formatting, causing the trail to go cold, and this update to peter out quite pathetically. So here’s a clip from Ren and Stimpy.

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Monday, 29 June 2009

Wheeling Out The BBC Shockometer

It’s been a while since we used our handy measurement device for how SHOCKING the latest state-broadcaster-based OUTRAGES have been. Luckily, it’s still ticking along (a bit of a shame, as we’d fancied upgrading to a Trundle Wheel of Beeb-Based Fury, but there you go), so shall we feed in a smattering of manufactured tabloid disgruntlement? Yes we shall.

Today it’s… can you guess? Yep, it’s the Daily Dacre, with the headline BBC under fire over £1.5m 'Glasto Army' as it sends Alan Yentob and 414 others along to cover a pop festival.

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Doooh. That ‘the BBC’, eh? Let’s read on.

“The BBC has come under fire for sending 415 people to cover this weekend's Glastonbury festival.”

Well, yes. Come under fire from you. Right there, In the article you’re writing. We’re not sure that makes it news, though.

“The BBC confirmed that it sent 27 television and radio presenters to Glastonbury, fronted by Radio 1's Jo Whiley and Radio 2's Mark Radcliffe.

They were supported by a 68-strong editorial team and 160 technicians.

The BBC sent a further 18 staff to work on interactive content and employed 130 contractors to provide technical support and security.

There were so many on the corporation's payroll that it had to block book hotels within a ten-mile radius of the site.“

415 people needed to stay in hotels? Did the Mail journalists covering the event – such as Martha de Lacey, Adrian Thrills, Liz Jones or the mysterious “Daily Mail Reporter” (i.e. a PA news feed) - sleep under a bit of plastic in a lay-by, then? The report also includes the snarky little aside, seemingly apropos of naff-all:

“Mr Yentob once hosted a Glastonbury festival reception at his nearby country home, paid for by the licence fee.”

Without of course taking into account that once you’re working for a publicly funded entity, the BBC, the NHS, the Police or whoever, you can then use your wages to buy goods and services, that sort of thing is going to happen. Maybe the Mail also likes to add asides to reports on the NHS along the lines of “cancer specialist Norah Smith once bought a second hand Ford Focus, paid for by the TAXPAYER. THAT’S YOU! Go on, BURN THE WITCH”, but we can’t be sure.

Anyway, we’ve actually recorded a total of thirty-four hours of the coverage (that number again: 34 hours) onto BrokenTV’s PVR for later viewing, most of it uninterrupted music from the red button feeds, and that was without even touching the coverage from BBC Three or BBC Four. Even for notoriously grumpy bastards like us, we’re expecting to get at least five hours of music we like out of that lot.

“Sir Michael, Mr Byford and Mr Yentob were all given free passes to attend the festival in a 'work capacity'.”

Mail contributor Dominique Hines was given a free pass to attend the festival in a “cobble some words together to describe Fergie From The Black Eyed Peas’ dress" capacity. What’s the difference? If Alan Yentob had Twittered his opinion about Little Boots’ outfit, it’d somehow all be valid? If Mark Byford had blogged about Lily Allen’s weight it’d all magically be fine? If Sir Michael Lyons slumps into an expensive chair at the next BBC Trust meeting and proclaims how The Ting Tings were ‘banging’, it would now be justified? We’re not sure what you mean here.

Further down the page, the Mail have helpfully included a table of staff at the event, just so you can work out the precise proportion of FURY for each group:

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Seven TV presenters? For a sprawling live event covered by three different TV channels, or at least five if you’re including the Red Button channels? That’s… fairly reasonable, surely? Covering several different stages, plus the impromptu events going on around the site – does that really need thirty editorial staff, along with dozens of technical crew bods and contractors? Well, it probably does, given they’re generating QUITE a lot of content. How much content?

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Just the EIGHTY-NINE programmes of it currently available on iPlayer, that’s all. Now, discounting the archive programmes on there (looks back at John Peel at Glastonbury, or Stuart Maconie’s profile of Blur), we’ll tot up the amount of coverage actually from Glastonbury 2009 that’s on there. A fairly handy reckoner, wouldn’t you say? (We’ll include the breakdown in the comments, just in case anyone might accuse us of making things up).

Blimey, that took ages. Anyway, in total, between TV and radio, and only including coverage of this year’s festival, there are a total of 71 programmes, totalling some 7,045 minutes. That’s 117 hours, 25 minutes. Or, and it’s probably worth pointing this out to any Mail readers who’ve made it this far, just under 17 minutes of broadcast output PER BBC STAFF MEMBER. Or, £212.92 per broadcast minute for a huge scale outside broadcast event. Or, if you must, under two licence fees per minute. By anyone’s standards, that’s pretty good value.

Of the coverage on iPlayer, 32.4 hours is full television coverage. Assuming (incorrectly) that the entirety of that £1.5m budget was spent on that alone, it works out to £46,296.30 per hour of broadcast-quality television. Given that it costs £900,000 to make an hour of primetime drama, that’s 19.4 hours of live music for the price of an episode of Holby City. So, £1.5million isn’t such a big number after all, perhaps?

Overmanning, though. It’s a serious concern. Sure it was putting together about fifty hours of broadcast quality television, not to mention the radio and web coverage, or making that coverage of the Festival available to broadcasters around the globe, it should have been ONE MAN, with an ALBA VIDEO CAMERA, and a TAPE RECORDER. And that nice Simon Bates linking all the coverage. So, in summary, despite what we’re just said, we’re with the Mail reporter on this. Did you hear me? We’re with you, erm, what was your name…?

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Ah, Richard Simpson, Liz Thomas and Simon Cable. Three people. To write 763 words. Anyway, a look at the shockometer, then?

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Oh, shit. The Daily Mail have actually broken the BBC Shockometer.

For the record, the Telegraph also tried to mine the same pit of faux-fury, but they claimed it was a total of 407 people sitting atop the BBC Gravy Train, so someone’s lying. Who’d have thunk, eh?

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Friday, 26 June 2009

You Couldn’t Make It Up

So, we post a little tribute to Steven Wells, and as a title we choose the reference Wells made in his final Philadelphia Weekly column to the pop song “Blame It On The Boogie” . The most well-known version of that song was recorded by The Jackson Five, and within twelve hours, well, you know the rest. We’re not saying we’re cursed or anything, but we thought we’d play safe with the title for this update, just in case.

Anyway, there’s no Michael Jackson tribute here, as while we sort of liked some of this songs, he didn’t have any real influence on our lives. Instead, here’s our visualisation of THE FUTURE OF INTERACTIVE TELEVISION.

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We’re not taking credit for the idea, it’s based on a throwaway line by Charlie Brooker in the Screen Burn compilation we were reading earlier, we just felt that the idea needed bringing to life. Static life, we don’t have the time to fanny about doing animated gifs.

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Thursday, 25 June 2009

“Me? I blame it on sunshine. I blame it on the moonlight. I blame it on the boogie.”

 

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Steven Wells, 1960-2009.

Legendary rock journalist Steven Wells (aka Swells, Seething Wells, Susan Wells) passed away on Tuesday after a long battle with cancer. Even near the end, he was still penning pieces full of his trademark combination of wit, grit and spittle, culminating in this column for Philadelphia Weekly.

Now, it would be quite easy to lapse into a series of mawkish platitudes about how he was one of our favourite writers during our formative years, and how he was one of the inspirations for what we’d quite inappropriately describe as our ‘writing’ ‘style’. We could even spend a few paragraphs cackhandedly trying to pay tribute to him in a rough approximation of his own work, “with Swells at the typewriter, words suddenly had the opportunity to become huge man-eating, razor-toothed pitbulls, ready to launch a gruesome attack on the fleshiest folds of the subject in his sights”, that sort of thing.

However, as pointed out in the opening pages of his excellent novel Tits-Out Teenage Terror Totty, he didn’t really go a bundle on people schmaltzily mourning someone they’ve never even met, so it’d just seem a bit wrong. Instead, we’re going to quote the aforementioned opening to T-OTTT, and embed a Daphne & Celeste video:

x10sctmp9“Here it comes now! Stumbling through the undergrowth, the brittle skulls of small rodents cracking like gunshots under the savagely spiked heels of its steel toe-capped Dolce and Gabana fuck-me stilettoes.

Those oh-so familiar doe-like eyes fix madly on the middle distance, ignoring the brambles and branches that lash at that brutally scarred but oh-so beautiful face. On its back, surgically attached and purely decorative, are two massive wings of compassion. On its lurching torso is a matt-black strapless Versace gown. In its gnarled fists it carries a razor toothed chainsaw. And in its heart - HATRED!

She's BACK! Stop CRYING! Princess of the Pod People! Queen of Hearts! Empress of Empathy! Duchess of Despondency! Monarch of Melancholy! Sovereign of Sobbing! Czarina of WANGST!

England's Rose is risen from the dead and this time - IT'S PERSONAL!

Sewn back together by an especially formed team of the world's top neurosurgeons and made more beautiful, more perfect, more saintlike, more compassionate, more doe-like and better equipped to deal instant death than ever before!

Her reconstituted flesh covers a titanium skeleton. State of the art micro-circuited laser weaponry hums under her peach-like skin.

She lurches to a stop and scans the horizon.

A lone paparazzo - the penile telescopic tools of his evil trade slung around his scrawny neck - lies concealed by camouflage just a hundred yards to the front, blissfully unaware of the savage death that awaits him.

"QUEENMOTHERFUCKA" screams Spencerstein as she scoops a fistful of upper-class quality cocaine out of her Chanel handbag and rams it wastefully up her oh-so-perfect nostrils before ripping the massive chainsaw into rapidly barking life. The startled paparazzo looks up suddenly and shitshocks savagely as he whirls round with whiplash intensity to witness the senses-shattering sight of Diana's zomboid horrorcorpse tottering towards him at impossible speed, slashing the air insanely with the fume-spewing chainsaw and screaming like a banshee on crack.

CRUMP! CRUMP! CRUMP! CRUMP!

Spencerstein charges, spitting with fury, bog eyed with hated and

KABOOOOOOM!

gets blown to bloody bits as she accidentally steps on a landmine.

Ooh! That's got to fucking hurt!

"SHE'S DEAD - AGAIN!" scream an ecstatic British press.

"HUZZAH!" roar an orgasmic British public as they whip out millions of still tear-soaked and snot-stiffened union jack hankies and prepare for another week of utterly debasing, undignified, snivelling, grovelling and utterly nauseating forelock-tugging mass hysteria as, once again, she's scooped into a coffin and obscenely paraded through the streets of London in an orgy of braindead emotional masturbation. “

- from Tits-Out Teenage Terror Totty, by Steven Wells (Attack! Books, 1999) ISBN 1 84068 032-6

 

 

Rest in peace, Swells.

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Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Spoiler: The Mad Magician Is The USSR

Heavy-handed political allegory from the 1950s. Bad atom!

 

Remember kids, if you do stumble across atomic energy, make sure it’s the good kind.

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Tuesday, 23 June 2009

The End of Setanta Sports: Live Blog

[17.26] MediaGuardian report that Setanta Sports News, Setanta 1 and Setanta 2 are due to close down around 6pm this evening. Join us now, as we commentate live on exciting events as they happen. Or, more likely, don't. Meaning we end up deleting this post, and it goes the way of "New BBC Ident: Live Blog", "BBC Engineering Relay Station Tests 2007: Live Blog" and "Totally Saturday Series Launch: Live Blog".

[17.30] It's genuinely quite sad that the presenters on-air at Setanta Sports News may well not know they'll be out of a job in about 30 minutes. The channel aren't even reporting on their own closure, despite it being a live breaking news story. They're literally "on location" for this big breaking story, yet the SSN ticker bar isn't even referring to it. Mind you, neither are Sky Sports News, it seems.

 

[17.35] We feel like ghouls. We’re reporting on the downfall of a television channel, yet the people actually on it are ploughing on with Horatio Herbert Kitchener-grade stiff upper lippedness:

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[17.44] Flicking through, all three channels due to close this evening are broadcasting programmes which end at 6pm. Hopefully there’ll be a fitting retrospective for what was – despite what braying crowds of England fans might have said – a commendable attempt at taking on the status quo.

[17.46] As the anchors keep on presenting the sports news, the office workers in the background are actually packing their bags.and walking away. There might be a temptation to make cheap gags at their expense here (“tee-hee, someone’s going round nicking all the mousemats!”, that sort of thing), but it’s a group of people actually losing their jobs, broadcast live on air.

[17.48] The closure of the channel is finally being mentioned, with a rundown of the events covered. Including the aside that “all sports were covered equally, no matter who the rights holder”. Nice touch, given that Sky Sports News don’t like to mention events that they don’t have the rights to.

[17.50] Maybe it’s just the short amount of notice they’ve had to get a retrospective together, but the ‘highlights’ package for the channel – a selection box of reporters in snow talking about deadline day, a few interviews with disinterested sportsmen, a clip of Rafa Benitez and his dossier, and clips from sporting events, often with the telltale score overlays from BBC Sport, but we can’t help but feel this cements the channel’s position as “poor relation to Sky Sports News”. Mind you, that’s more ITN’s fault (who were behind the channel) than Setanta’s.

[17.55] The musical bed for the montage is some nondescript top 20 ‘chart’ ‘smash’. Now, we know they’d had a bit longer to prepare for their demise, but as least ITV Digital closed with Pixies’ Monkey Gone To Heaven.

[17.58] It’s all over. And to be honest, it’s a shame.

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[18.00] Anyone been watching Sky Sports News or Setanta 1 (or 2) over the last ten minutes? Sky Sports News seem to be leading with something or other about Chelsea at the moment (y’know, for a change), but we’d hope they could at least have acknowledged the passing of their sports-news-based adversaries as they slid back into their monopolistic position. Meanwhile, we’d guess Setanta 1 (and 2) had cut to the closing Setanta Sports News tribute from their last few minutes on air, as opposed to crashing into the caption above.

[18.20] For anyone wondering what happens next for the other channels available to Setanta subbers, here’s a quick rundown of which channels are on air, and which aren’t:

ESPN America (Sky channel 417) : ON AIR
Setanta News (418) : Closed
Setanta Sports 1 (423) : Closed
Setanta Sports 2 (424) : Closed
Setanta Golf (429) : Closed
Setanta Ireland (430): ON AIR
Racing UK (430) : ON AIR
Liverpool FC TV (434) : ON AIR
Arsenal TV (435) : ON AIR

Celtic TV (436) : EPG says “European night”, but blank screen.
Rangers TV (438): EPG says “The Wee Match”, but blank screen.

How long they’ll last, we’re not sure. None of the channels still on air are actually owned by Setanta, so presumably will stay ticking along whilst seeking a new subscription model, presumably via Sky. When Celtic and Rangers TV will return is anyone’s guess.

[18.45] So, with Setanta closed for less than an hour, resulting in 200 people suddenly becoming unemployed, how are people on Twitter showing their sympathy?

“So goodbye then Setanta Sports News - off air at 6pm. We salute their professionalism and their spirit in the face of adversity.”

“Heart goes out to 200 people who no longer have a job at Setanta.”

“Just watched Setanta Sports go off air A bad day for TV & fans A good day for the bully boy managers at Sky TV “

“wats guna happen with ufc in the uk now? setanta you bastards, 2 weeks before 100!”

”SETANTA SPORTS GONE!!!! THAT WAS QUICK, SAD THAT SO MANY PEOPLE OUT OF WORK BCOZ OF IT.....”

“As the lights sadly go out at Setanta, so starts the uploads of Setanta freelancer's showreels: http://bit.ly/50s6T

“Haha in a bit Setanta Sports worst fucking TV channel ever”

“setanta is now off air I wannabe bloody refund”

“Glad to see Setanta has gone tits up. Horrible company.”

”Just watching the closing moments of Setanta Sports News. More jobs lost. So sad. Journalism's taking a real kicking at the moment.”

Twitter, there. TV Newsroom already have Setanta’s farewell retrospective online. So, here’s a link to it: http://tvnewsroom.co.uk/blog/setanta-goes-into-administration/ As Simon Sweepingthenation mentions in the comments for this post, it was clearly a compilation cobbled together for in-house and trade purposes, what with all the captions being in the present tense. A shame there wasn’t really the chance to put together a more fitting tribute to the brand, but kind of fitting in with their all too quick demise.

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Still, that’s it. Setanta – so long, and thanks for all the fish (sport).

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Monday, 22 June 2009

Exciting Newstopia On BBC Four Update

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Back in October, we started a campaign to get Shaun Micallef’s wonderful news parody Newstopia onto UK screens, with the most likely homes for it being BBC Four, More4 or Paramount. Flicking through our EPG today, what do we find making up one half of a BBC Four colonial comedy double bill (alongside Flight of the Conchords)? Could it possibly be? Dare we dream?

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Doooh. So near, yet so far. Still, it’s a start. And if it went down really well in the ratings, maybe it could lead to Newstopia maybe reaching our screens. Hopefully. Even though the Powers That Be would deem the topical jokes therein too dated to broadcast now, they’d be overruled by the BBC Trust. And it’d be part of a Comedy Shows We Should Have Picked Up Years Ago strand, along with Mr Show. Look, just leave us along with our wishes, okay?

As for Chaser’s War…, we can only assume these’ll be compilations from past series, and not the brand new series which has come in for a Rossbrandsachs-sized shitstorm from the Australian media after their “Make a realistic wish” sketch “mocked dying kids” (i.e. copied an idea from an old Mr Show sketch, only without the wit, panache and talent). Here’s the sketch in question:

Not very good, is it? Despite that, from what we’ve seen of The Chasers, they are capable of some proper Saturday Night Armistice-style comedy*, and the BBC Four shows will certainly be worth a look. Hopefully most of the material making the BBC Four shows will be along the lines of this.

(*Though to be more accurate, CWOE is more along the lines of “Fantasy Football League given a broader remit, with a dash of Beadles About” than Saturday Night Armistice, but it doesn’t sound as snappy.)

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Sunday, 21 June 2009

Music Has The Right To Contact Eileen Bilton… Now!

Brilliant YouTube thing of the day: a fan-made video for Boards Of Canda’s “Roygbiv”, comprising wholly of clips from 1980s UK television commercials.

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Thursday, 18 June 2009

Humpty Dumpty is Going to Kill You in Your Sleep

Here’s something you don’t get nowadays; misguided television commercials that have the intention of appealing to children, but which end up being inexplicably terrifying. You may have to roll with us on some of these, but we’ve had lo-fidelity masterpiece “Dying Happy” by Baby Bird on in the background while watching these, and it does admittedly add an air of understated menace to even the jolliest puppet potato.

SMITHS CRISPS

 

SUBTEXT: Remember kids, potatoes are actually alive. Alive, and seem to have a fervent wish to be chopped up into really thin slices and then boiled in fat. Why, we’re not sure – possibly due to some kind of deep depression that is presumably likely to happen amongst root vegetables stuck in soil for the majority of their lifetimes, or maybe it’s a sex thing. Who knows? All we know for sure is, they want it to happen in the factories of Smith Crisps.

CRESTA

 

SUBTEXT: So, maudlin, frenzied, maudlin. Cresta – enjoyed by bipolar bears.

KINDER SURPRISE

 

SUBTEXT: Humpty Dumpty is really fucking scary. Do you know what he’s doing behind that wall? Sharpening his axe. And do you know why? Because he wants to see if little girls and boys also contain rubbish little plastic toys if he chops them open. Anyway, sleep tight!

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Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Turkish Delight on a Moonlit Night

For all the annoying chatter along the lines of “ooh, isn’t Letterman brilliant! Why isn’t there a show like that over here, eh? My favourite bit is when he laughs at one of ‘his’ jokes that he’s just seen on a cue card for the first time, and then the band leader pretends to lead an impromptu version of a vaguely relevant musical number. Why it isn’t on a proper channel, I. Just. Don’t. Know”, we prefer Craig Ferguson. who follows Letterman with The Late Late Show in the CBS nightly schedule. Why? Because he’ll open a show like this:

Much better.

[Update] Simon, from the internet’s Sweeping The Nation writes:

“It's certainly stiff competition in the 'British TV Face From The Nineties Visually Represents TMBG' stakes to:”

 

Excellent stuff. Now, if we can just dig out footage of Ray Cokes doing the robot in time to ‘Rhythm Section Want Ad’ we may well have a minor internet meme on our hands.

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Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Angry, and Possibly Litigious

Now, it’s not a conscious decision that we’ve somehow become one of those blogs that just links to YouTube videos done by other, talented people, but we feel compelled to share this. We like dance music. We like Stephen Colbert. Ergo: we like this.

 

In other news, we’re trying to get at least one update “out there” every day from now on, so you can probably expect quite feeble updates like this making up the numbers.

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Heavily Stylised Gs and Silent Laments

We haven’t checked in with Applemask’s spiffing retrospectives on ITV regional continuity for a while, so what better time to stroll briskly with him through the cobbled streets of Granadaland’s past. Hey, it’s not all drab yellow-on-blue slides displayed to a soundtrack of nothing more than a faintly crackling UHF signal and the lament in the back of your mind that the people in the village down the road who get Central instead are represented by a much cooler ident. Just us?

PART ONE: “the idea of national television in Britain was still only water in a stranger’s tear”.

PART TWO: “Look at me, look at me, LOOK AT ME!”

 

PART THREE: “A flickering light show for weeping onanists.”

 

Just as soon as we invent time travel, we’re going straight back to 1983 in order to shake some Bernstein lapel. We’ll keep on shaking that Berstein lapel until we’re allowed to take control of the corporate identity of the channel, at which point the realisation that Photoshop doesn’t exist yet will kick in, we’ll panic, and the ITV franchise for the North-West of England and North Wales will duly be represented by something we hurriedly put together on a BBC Micro in MODE 2.

Hey, that’s exactly what happened to Children’s BBC in 1985:

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Sunday, 14 June 2009

The Mighty PWEI versus Gay Byrne

If there’s something we love seeing, it’s when mainstream television plays host to completely unsuitable guests. For example, in the early 1990s Bill Hicks was once a guest on Pebble Mill at One. Bill Hicks! Sadly, there isn’t a clip of that on YouTube, but there is this. Promoting their album Dos Dedos Mes Amigos, Pop Will Eat Itself made an appearance on sedate Irish chat show The Late Late Show.  Carnage ensued:

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Tuesday, 9 June 2009

More News Going Wrong

That last update has been linked to on Metafilter, resulting in a minor flurry of hits to the blog. As a direct result, because we’re needy enough to pander to any reasonably large crowd glancing in our general direction, here’s a minor collection of other news-related titsuppery from YouTube. Some of these are mentioned in the comments of the aforelinked Metafilter page, credits included where due (because we can’t be bothered registering on there to thank the poster directly). We’d sooner all the comments had just been about how great we are, but we assume everyone is just taking that bit as read.

Firstly, legendary CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer in 1977, having a bad start to his bulletin (from Metafilter user evilcolonel):

“Good evening!”

The first of several CNN blooper reels, pretty much the stateside equivalent of our very own Christmas Tapes (also from evilcolonel):

“Oh.. shit.”

More, here, and here and here.

A shorter clip of CNN’s Nancy Grace and Clark Goldband doing a pre-planning ‘bit’, where they try to extract the maximum amount of jollity from… erm… a story about rape. That’s rape. Bloody hell.

From ‘New York Good Day’, here’s a very special ELDERLY ANCHOR VERSUS ELDERLY ANCHOR BITCH FIGHT. He could almost be the American Peter O’Hanrahanrahan.

“I was your boss, once!”

The world’s most unfortunately placed aston:

But, saving the best ‘til last, here’s a non news clip. Instead it’s a few highlights of Eurovision 1977, with a hugely entertaining talkback track from the gallery included. Starring a director so angry he makes his counterpart from yesterday’s BBC News clip sound like Sergeant Wilson from Dad’s Army. We know there’s an annoying graphic popping up throughout this video, but you don’t really need the pictures.

It’s possible this is an elaborate hoax, but we prefer to think it’s the real deal, mainly because the thought of things like this going on behind the scenes add to the magic of television (as posted on Metafilter by malevolent).

“Sound! Sound! Have you cut the sound? Put the sound… there’s fuck all sound in here[… ]This bloody organisation!”

The thing we now want our of combined Christmas and birthday present: a full, unedited copy of the above non-broadcast recording to be uploaded to UKNova.

[update] We have investigated. The Eurovision 1977 clip is real, the director in question being the well-regarded Stewart Morris. A clip from the BBC Christmas Tape for 1979 (Good King Memorex) lightly parodied his Euroantics from 1977. Hurrah!
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Monday, 8 June 2009

Philip Hayton Version? That’s a Good Name For A Band.

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Thanks to a post by Steve Williams on the spanky new TVCream Forum, we’ve got a new hobby. Watching YouTube videos from Newsbunny, where old editions of the BBC News are accompanied the talkback track from the gallery. Yeah! It might not sound as exciting as, say, train collecting or stamp spotting, but that’s until you see this one.

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Dating from December 1986, the clip sees Philip Hayton present the BBC One O’Clock News for the first time. Entertainingly, we’re able to see just what a good job he actually does, as everything pretty much goes to cack up in the gallery. The chaos is commentated on by the director, who becomes increasingly agitated as the bulletin goes on. Meanwhile, Hayton is coolness personified, dealing with the problems with aplomb, even when a report falls off air, and he’s asked to ad-lib. That’s ad-lib the news.

Highlights from the gallery include:

(1.20) “There’s no page eleven! Have you got page eleven?”

(1.50) “There’s no VT. Hope to bring you pictures later.”

(2.20) “I haven’t got any stories Mike!”

(2.38) “What interview!?”

(3.05) “I haven’t got a thirty-six yet!”

(3.35) “Oh, shhhh….!”

(3.49) “I haven’t got any scripts, Mike! How am I supposed to run a show?”

(4.47) “I haven’t got any pages at all!”

(6.25) “Oh, sod it!”

(6.41) “We haven’t got the City!”

(7.08) “Just ad-lib, we haven’t got the TX.”

It really does show how hard it is (or at least, was) to put together a live news broadcast, and how difficult a job newsreader’s job actually is.

“TX! OTHER TRACK!”

 

[update 17:37 June 9th]

Still, it could have been worse:

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Sunday, 7 June 2009

Movie Pitch: Britain’s Got TERROR

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With a nod to classic Vincent Price/Diana Rigg flick Theatre of Blood, this could take the cinemas by storm. Here’s the synopsis:

Kendall Lombard (Bill Nighy) has been practicing his novelty stage act for years – standing atop six stacked chairs while playing a mouth organ and juggling four live guinea pigs. After undergoing the regional heats process, he is chosen to appear on a top rated talent show, ITV1’s Britain’s Got Talent. However, all does not go to plan on the big night, when one of his guinea pigs has stage fright and piddles down his sleeve, causing him to cock up the ending to a harmonica-based cover of Radiohead’s Paranoid Android. The judges, as one, pull their special ‘I know the camera is on me now’ disgusted faces, and proceed to give Lombard three Xs before he can regain his composure. A chuckling Ant and Dec drag a furious Lombard from the stage.

Subsequently, a disgraced Lombard vows bloody vengeance on the judges. Abetted by his daughter Mariella (Sheridan Smith), Lombard tracks down each of the judges and the hosts, with the aim of murdering them in a cruelly ironic (not to mention convoluted) fashion. First up, Simon Cowell (Richard Keys) is lured to an abandoned warehouse by Mariella on the premise that she’s a moderately talented but easily exploitable young singer. Knocked unconscious from behind, he awakes to find himself in a vat, where he is subsequently drowned in the salty tears of failed reality show contestants.

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Secondly, Amanda Holden (Cheryl Cole) is lured to the opening of a new beauty salon (actually an abandoned warehouse). As Holden sits under a hair dryer, Lombard and Mariella stand around thinking of a suitably fitting demise for her. After twenty minutes they agree that she doesn’t really have any interesting or unique character traits, so they let her go.

Next up, Piers Morgan (a half chewed Toffo in a suit) is invited to a fake awards ceremony on the proviso he is to accept the award for Best Person In Britain. The deluded buffoon, unable to resist the chance to have his ego stroked, attends the ceremony, his perpetual quest for celebrity status blinding him to the fact it’s taking place in a deserted warehouse and that the rest of the audience are shop dummies. On accepting his award from a heavily disguised Lombard, a puff of knockout gas is released from the podium, and Morgan collapses to the floor. As he awakes, he discovers he is stuck in a metal tube of some kind. Disguise removed, Lombard explains how Morgan had been fired from his job as editor of the Daily Mirror after publishing faked photographs of British soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners. As such, his fitting punishment is to be fired out of a cannon, into a mirror.

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(An untalented) Artist’s impression.

Finally, Ant and Dec (Richard Hammond and Jon Culshaw) are locked in a room (of an abandoned warehouse) with a television set playing an endless loop of Newcastle United’s Season Review 2008/9 until they take their own lives.

And that’s it. It could do with a bit of fleshing out, admittedly (though going into too much detail about the grisly demise of well-known celebrities on the internet would probably see us in court), but with a good director behind it, we’re saying it’s a winner. Come on Working Title, what are you waiting for?

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Thursday, 4 June 2009

New Shaun Micallef Programme!

There’s a new Shaun Micallef programme! There’s a new Shaun Micallef programme! Here’s a screen grab of him playing chess against a toaster from it!

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Sadly however, it’s not a new Shaun Micallef P(r)ogram(me). Instead, it’s a new primetime panel-based game show, transmitted every Tuesday at 7.30pm on the Ten network (in Australia, as we’d hope you’d all know by now). It is called Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation.

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The format runs thusly: three teams representing the three generations (Baby Boomers, Generation X, Gen Y) must answer a series of pop culture related questions, and undergo a series of culture-related tasks. Whichever generation has the most points by the end of the show is the best for a whole week.

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We’d sooner a ‘proper’ comedy show, but hey, it’s a comedy panel show, and it’s hosted by Shaun Micallef. What’s not to like. Here comes our extensive review, using our time-honoured “good things get points, bad things see points deducted” system.

GOOD: It is hosted by Shaun Micallef. +5 points.

GOOD: Due to the pre-watershed timeslot, Shaun vows to “subtract points for filth”. This means Shaun gets to be all schoolmasterly when banter slides into smut, which is always a good chance for him to be amusing. +2 points.

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GOOD: Some of the guests are people we recognise, like Arj Barker from Flight of the Conchords. +2 points.

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BAD: Despite many of the panellists being comedians, much of the show is run along strict quiz-based lines. So, if someone buzzes in with an amusing but clearly wrong answer, Shaun has to quickly move on and ask someone else, instead of riffing with them on the likelihood of the Qantas logo being a farting dog (or whatever) in the ‘identify a corporate logo after seeing just a tiny bit of it’ round. –2 points

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BAD: While it’s a nice idea for a round (especially as we’re graphic design sluts who can’t get enough of rounds based on corporate idents), Ofcom would surely frown on such things being shown over here without going into Pizel Frenzy mode. Not that there’s more than a 0.0005% chance of it getting shown in the UK anyway. –0.0005 points

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GOOD: Even in the 7.30pm timeslot, Shaun still finds time to indulge in plenty of avant-garde tomfoolery. Such as: introducing an episode while playing chess against a toaster (see top image), and holding the clue cards at strange angles for the contestant at the easel in the “sketch the TV show’ round. +3 points

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GOOD: Also, Shaun announces that while Ten aren’t offering any prizes, he’ll give one of his own awards to the winning team, such as the Aria received for his ‘Expurgated Micallef Tonight’ DVD ,or his prize for winning an edition of Thank God You’re Here. This is good, because it reminds us of the high esteem in which Micallef is held in his native country, and hopefully he’ll keep getting work. +3 points

HOWEVER: It also means that he’ll be kept too busy to try his luck on UK television, which is a crying shame. –2 points

MIND YOU: The bit where Shaun announces the final round is worth a ‘secret number of points’, then reels off a load of examples as to what that secret number could be (“it could be worth five points, could be worth five thousand points. It could be worth seventeen points. It could be worth three hundred and eleven points. It could be worth three hundred and twelve points”). To move on, an envelope is lowered down on a piece of titanium wire by some 'especially blinded monks', containing the number of points that the round is worth. REDEEMED. +2 points.

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GOOD: The final round is a Generation Game (hey, that could be another name for the… oh, you’ve guessed) type affair, with the teams asked to do cross-generational tasks like wallpapering a room…

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…or building sandcastles. This might be a bit generic, but it’s helped along by Shaun reading out some relevant ‘facts’ (“In England, by 1806, falsification of copyrighted wallpaper stamps was punishable by death”). Plus, the cackhanded jobs done by the teams also add to the fun, much as in The Generation Game When Jim Davidson Wasn’t Doing It. +2 points

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GOOD: Harold Bishop! +3 points

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GOOD: No credits at the end, just a message and a URL of where the credits can be found. This prevents annoying broadcasters from ‘credit squeezing’ and doing annoying voiceovers along the lines of “You like Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle, so we’re assuming you’ll also like Horne & Corden”, so we are in favour of it. +1 point.

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BAD: It’s a Granada show. By the final episode, this is likely to have become an ‘ITV Studios’ show, which isn’t as impressive. –2 points

GOOD: But then we think about how good Granada used to be, in the good old days of Bob Greaves being sexually assaulted by an elephant on Granada Reports. +2 points.

BAD: And then we remember how long ago that was, and how age has withered our once youthful looks. Damn. –1 point.

FINAL SCORE: 17.9995 POINTS

While it’s certainly a bit of a disappointment as a Shaun Micallef vehicle because there’s not really enough of him in it, we’re nothing if not optimists. It’s a moderately entertaining game show in its own right, and on top of that, it’s hosted by Shaun Micallef. That’s a good thing, if you’re asking us. As long as the full series of Inspektor Herring isn’t too far away, that is.

Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation is possibly available to watch online here (we’re not sure, as our install of Firefox hates Ten’s webplayer). Failing that, diwana.org is your best bet.

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Tuesday, 2 June 2009

ITV4 = URLs>Violence Against Women

A few updates ago, we mentioned a phenomena we’re now going to dub “Why URLs Are Seemingly Worse Than Swearing According To Digital Channels” (clunky, but roll with it) after catching a More4 broadcast of The Daily Show which had a reference to The Daily Show’s website cackhandedly edited out of the UK broadcast. We also referred to the clumsy removal of the URL “Amazon.com” when Jon Stewart interviewed the boss of Amazon.com during an earlier edition of The Daily Show. We pretended to get all angry about it, and then complained that Someone Ought To Do Something, without planning to Do Something ourselves (other than whine about it). Such is our wont.

Anyway, during our latest meander through the BrokenTV PVR (258 unviewed programmes, 30.17% available space) we stumbled over an old episode of Tarrant On TV, dating from 2005 and repeated a couple of months ago from ITV4. As generally happens during many episodes of the long-running series, in a link nearing the end of part one, Chris Tarrant’s face switches from “cuh! those zany foreign comedy shows, eh? mode” to “full newsflash-level gravitas mode” within the space of a comma. Time for some serious, issue-based clips.

Now, it’d be easy to embark on a Generic Blog Hack Rant about jarring gear changes when it comes to Tarrant (nee Clive James) on TV, but the fact of the matter is that they do serve a purpose. The viewer is feeling quite jolly after seeing the latest adverts for Thai bidet wholesalers (or in this specific example, a spoof advert from Saturday Night Live for a luxury car with a functioning vagina called The Mistress, aimed at the duplicitous husband market, followed by a hidden camera “lady doctor is actually dominatrix” bit), so that when a harrowing drunk driving advert from New Zealand is shown, the message has that much more of an impact. Much in the same way as “serious message” adverts tend to hit home when preceded by an ad for Moonpig.

The “serious bit” of the edition of Tarrant on TV that we’ve just watched followed immediately on from the aforementioned SNL shagmobile skit and Dr Whiplash stunt. The intro ran thus:

Jollyface Tarrant: “Those thrashings were almost slapstick”

Serious comma time.

Serious Tarrant: “but this next hard-hitting commercial from New York delivers a much more sombre message to expose violence that is not just unacceptable, but totally inexcusable.”

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There then followed an advert for a New York woman’s refuge called “My Sister’s Place”, showing a scene where a boss punched a nervous female latecomer to his meeting, simply for arriving a few minutes late. Cue a caption pointing out that such actions are similarly unacceptable in the home, but that there is someone who can help. A powerful message, followed up with Chris Tarrant making the following introduction to the next clip.

“Now, here in Britain, Womankind Worldwide is another charity that strives to stamp out the many forms of abuse suffered by many women around the globe. Their funds and human resources are used to empower women and to take control of their lives,  But, in order to raise those funds, they sometimes have to resort to shocking imagery in order to bring home the plight of their sisters.”

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Opening scene. A poor African village. A screaming woman is being held down while a doctor gets ready to perform an act of genital mutilation on her, the tradition being that should the woman be unable to enjoy sex, she will be compelled to remain faithful to her husband. But as the doctor unsheathes a knife and nears the terrified woman, an invisible force grabs the knife from his hand, then throws him backwards, away from the operating chair.

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Scene two. Bombed out remains at the heart of a war-torn city. A young man has grabbed a woman from the street, and is now dragging her into the deserted shell of what was once a home. He throws the frightened refugee to the ground, and menacingly unfastens his trousers. As he begins to near the woman,  he is suddenly held back by the same invisible entity. Despite his struggles, he is dragged away from the sobbing woman.

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Scene three. A suburban English kitchen. An angry husband – and it’s worth pointing out here that we’re not talking about an archetypical sitcom ‘angry husband’ character, this guy is genuinely menacing – walks in and confronts a dishevelled and clearly distressed wife, visibly quivering with apprehension at what is about to happen. The husband yells at his wife over the state of the kitchen, leading to a meek verbal retaliation from the wife. Enraged, the husband pulls his fist back to strike, but his arm is pulled back by the invisible force. This time, the weight of the force holding back the aggressor can be seen more clearly in a close-up, with Raimi-grade pressure marks now visible on the bare arm of the husband, his arm straining with all his might to strike forward. The invisible force however, manages to keep him at a safe distance from his victim.

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The scene shifts to a boiling pot on the cooker, in the background of the kitchen. A series of captions appear. “We can be there.” “But only with your help. Womankind Worldwide”, followed by the URL of the non-profit organisation’s website.

And what is that URL? The website address any women in a similar situation might want to visit? Well:

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ITV4 have helpfully blurred it out, lest a website address be broadcast on screen. That’ll teach those, erm, fatcat women’s refuge centres based in the UK. Nice one, ITV.

That unseen website address in full: http://www.womankind.org.uk/

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