Monday, 26 February 2007

Reasons Why ITV Are Not Only Rubbish, But Also Seem Determined To Wreck The Fragile Self-Esteem Of BrokenTV's Mark X: Part One

May 1995.


Jacques Chirac is elected president of France. A Paul Rideout goal sees Everton beat hot favourites Manchester United in the FA Cup final. Former Prime Minister Harold Wilson dies. Ajax win the Champions League. The Supreme Court of Canada rules that sexual orientation is a prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In the USA, Dr. Samuel Beckett steps into a quantum accelerator and vanishes. Meanwhile, tired of doing a thankless and mind-numbing sixty-hour per week office job with four figure salary for an entire year, BrokenTV's Mark X notices an advert in MediaGuardian recruiting trainees for ITV's advertising sales department. Unperturbed by the fact his meagre CV containing absolutely no relevant qualification or experience will have to be printed out on a rubbishy second-hand dot-matrix printer, he applies for one of the positions. He posts his letter and waits. He is a chump.

February 2007.


A policeman is killed at the Serie A match between Catania and Palermo, leaving Italian football in turmoil. U.S. Senator Barack Obama of Illinois announces a presidential bid in Springfield. North Korea agrees to give up its nuclear program, for oil. Meanwhile, the once proud ITV are reduced to employing all manner of sub-chumps, tiny rodents and coloured pieces of felt to run their airtime sales department. SO IT WOULD SEEM.


Fact One: BARB Terrestrial TV Viewing Figures, Week Ending 4th February 2007

Finally, the majestic Harry Hill's TV Burp is the most popular comedy programme on British television. It's first showing, in an early Saturday evening slot, gathers an impressive 1.25 million more viewers than the next most watched comedy show, the interminably weak BBC sitcom After You've Gone, which airs in a prime 8.30pm Friday night slot. Just in case you misread that, this means that ITV1, yes ITV1, is home to the most popular comedy programme currently airing in the UK, and quite justifiably so. Savour that last sentence, because it's very probable the last time that statement was accurate, Rupert Rigsby ran a dilapidated but fictional town house, and Harold Wilson ran the country. Or, at the very least, Keith Barron was wandering around a mocked-up Spanish holiday resort in a TV studio.

Fact Two: How ITV Works

From Wikipedia:

"Unlike the BBC, ITV funds itself by showing television commercials. Despite the proliferation of channels, ITV is still the UK's biggest commercial broadcaster in the country. Its flagship analogue channel is ITV1."

So. It would stand to reason that, say, the nation's largest commercial broadcaster would happily be able to sell a great deal of advertising airtime for Britain's most popular comedy show, more than twenty years since it was last in a position to do so. Getting advertisers to advertise things in the space devoted to advertisements from such a show would not be the most... demanding of tasks, shall we say?

Yes, we shall.

Fact Three: The Number of Adverts That Were Aired In The Middle Of ITV1's Most-Watched Showing Of Harry Hill's TV Burp, On Saturday 24th February 2007.

One advert. That's just the one advert. One. Advert. And to make matters even stupider, it was this one:

Chewee Gum™. The Orange Drink™ of gums.

Cadbury's most woeful attempt at ramming a massive advertising spend for something nobody really wants down the necks of an apathetic British public since they tried to convince people to buy Fuse bars. Remember Fuse bars? The biggest ever marketing launch for a confectionery snack ever seen in the UK? A snack that subsequently went down the dumper a couple of years later and was promptly canned? And is now so long forgotten that there isn't even a Wikipedia page for it? No? Anyone? We only remember them because we had to sit through a video on the whole Fuse campaign during a marketing lecture a couple of weeks ago. Anyway.

Neatly sidestepping an entire rant* about the adverts for Chewing Product 23, or whatever it's called, how rubbish are ITV's airtime staff for that state of affairs?

The clear answer: very rubbish.

We've used the above data, and combined it with SCIENCE to compile a graph (which we're not going to show you here) that shows a clear trajectory from 1995 to Space Year 2007. If a laughably pathetic curriculum vitae printed on pound shop issue printer paper (and we weren't making that bit up, by the way) wasn't enough to land a 'prime' £14,000 a year job (in London, mind) in 1995, one would now need to send the words "ME WANTS JOB", smeared in blood-encrusted human shit, on the back of a page torn roughly from the back of Barely Legal magazine, without a stamp, to narrowly fail selection as a member of ITV's advertising airtime sales staff. This is fact. We can show our workings and everything. In fact, BrokenTV's Mark X is busy trying to remember which year he scraped a grade 'D' in General Studies and thumbing through the Yellow Pages as we speak.

(Yes, we're arguing in favour of more adverts. We've got Sky+, so we don't actually watch them, so we don't care.)


*Selected highlight of said rant: What the ruddy FUCK are those fictional people DOING? They're not just paying fictional money to see an annoying stand-up comedian do a joke-free set about the insipid flavour of contemporary chewing gum, but they have fictional counterparts happy to QUEUE outside in the RAIN, waiting to SEE an annoying stand-up comedian do a joke-free set about the insipid flavour of contemporary chewing gum. AND the advert uses a slogan that sounds a bit like another word for 'wanking', as a pathetic attempt to generate an ounce of discussion about the horrid overpriced chewy mess. We're clearly going to fail the marketing course we're on (we're not doing it through choice, by the way), because we're not MASSIVE TWAT-FACED SPUNKBUBBLES.

Friday, 16 February 2007

Lost: The Videogame - A BrokenTV Exclusive!

According to Wikipedia, a videogame version of Lost is being worked on. BrokenTV listener Adam Aitch has already likened the show to Spectrum classic Freddie Goes To Hollywood, but he may never know how close he is to the truth. UNTIL NOW. BrokenTV's crack team of web-ninjas have infiltrated Ubisoft's offices to being these EXCLUSIVE SHOTS of the forthcoming title.

Tip: use the rope to stop Hurley falling through the rope bridge near the start.

Monday, 12 February 2007

Lost is back!

And only a few days after people who've downloaded it off of the internets got to see it. Yup, as we've also done for brand new 24, we've left the waters of digital piracy, preferring the still but legit waters of conventional TV. You don't even have to FTP any of the programmes over to your chipped Xbox if you want to watch them on your big telly, or anything. And we only have to avoid all forum threads on the programmes in question for a few days in fear of seeing spoilers. And, of course, because we're special and have got a shiny new telly and Sky HD box, we get to see them all in Science-o-vision, which is a very special thing indeed. Time for a **spoileriffic**

What We Think Of New Lost FAQ

How BrokenTV Now Thinks Lost Is Going To End: One of the main characters will be strapped into the excellent Mind Control Chair.

The Most Grotesque Benefit Of Seeing Lost in HD: Not, as you might suspect, the close-up on the spinal surgery, but seeing Tom's nose, in full scaly detail. It's like what Sid James' nose might have looked like if Hancock's Half Hour was filmed in HD.

BrokenTV's Cheat Mode For Avoiding Adverts In Lost, If You're Watching It On Sky+, Like Any Right-minded Individual: Back-up, select, add five minutes to the current time, select. With an ounce of luck, you'll be back at the end of the annoying 118 sponsor bumper, and avoided all the adverts. This works for pretty much any other programme, too (apart from TV Burp, as despite it finally being one of their most popular shows, ITV can still only flog two minutes worth of advertising space for the middle of it, because they're rubbish).

In Case You're Not Sure What You've Seen Alice In Before, She Was In: Malcolm In The Middle, first three seasons. You really should have worked that out for yourselves by now. Thicky.

How Soon Will BrokenTV Be Wandering Into SpecSavers, Because Our Eyesight Has Got All Knackered From Watching HD Lost Sitting 24 Inches Away From The Screen?: About six weeks, we reckon. It's worth it, though.

That Diminishing List Of TV Shows BrokenTV Is Watching Primarily Via Evil Download Services: The Sarah Silverman Program, American Dad, My Name Is Earl, The Colbert Report, the decent Adult Swim shows just as soon as they return, Family Guy (which we're going to stop bothering with soon unless it picks up quite dramatically. The latest episode was terrible). A far cry from the fifteen or so we used to line up every week. We're even prepared to wait for new episodes of The Simpsons to show up on Sky One.

So, What's Best? Lost, or 24?: There's only one way to find out... Fiiii[snip]. Despite having to check that each episode of 24 wasn't written by Julie Birchall, so packed is it with cliffhangers based on the premise of "what's the *last* thing you think is going to happen right now? Well, that's *exactly* what's about to happen", it's still thunderingly good. However, our response to the first (well, seventh) episode of New Lost was decidedly 25% more animated than that of 24. So, despite a little bit of us dying inside because we've now noticed that Juliette has old woman hands (because we're watching in HD, don't you know), Lost is the winner.

Is BrokenTV Going To Stop Going On About Having HD Any Time Soon, As It's Getting Really Quite Tedious?: Heck, no.

Why, What's The Actual Difference Between HD and 'Normal' Telly Anyway, By Way Of An Illustrative Comparison?: Well, look.

Attribute clash and everything, see.

Thursday, 1 February 2007

Eager for Some Peep-Hole Panty Neck-Hurt Action?

Hurrah for Sky, eh? Around 400 channels, broadcasting in numerous languages, at qualities varying from 1080 HD to eighth-generation VHS NTSC-to-PAL, and it’s mostly dirge. On a given day, you can expect to see a dozen repeats of Friends, frankly weird Brazilian variety shows hosted by a club singer in a neckbrace-cum-microphone-stand, and one trillion hours of home shopping.

But, as Jimmy Cricket and his comically mislabelled wellies would undoubtedly say were he writing this blog, there’s more. A few swift presses on your Sky remote can open up a whole new world of viewing pleasure: hidden channels not yet deemed worthy of joining Psychic TV, Gems TV2 and O’seasproperty on the EPG proper. A carefree world where the normal rules of Sky+ do not apply. A grab-bag of content where a channel listed only as a four figure number could contain a pre-launch world of wonder, a screaming test card, or nothing more than blank void. Join us now, as we step tentatively down some creaky stairs (press ‘Service’ on our remote), worry that the batteries on our torch are beginning to fade (press ‘4’), wonder what that noise was behind us (press ‘4’ again), and repeat the secret incantations to open a portal into the netherworld (enter a frequency code from here and add some channels to the ‘Other Channels’ menu, then watch them).

Here are just two of our findings.

Trends TV
11.259 V | Symbol Rate 27.5 | F.E.C. 2/3 | Channel Name: 52117

What is it?

Seemingly due to launch some time soon, we’re not quite sure what the channel’s remit is, but we strongly suspect it’s along the lines of “The Cheapest General Entertainment Channel We Could Cobble Together and Still Qualify for a Place in the Entertainment Section, Where We Plan to Spend Fourteen Hours a Day Simulcasting Quiz Channels”. When we tuned in, the EPG claimed “9pm-11pm Movie Special: A movie show, with a selection of English title movies from around the world”.

What Was On?

What was actually on was some strange sort of American soap-opera/sitcom hybrid along the lines of ‘Mind Your Language’ meets ‘Robins Nest’. And not in a good way, like Soap. It is called Crossroads Café. It wants to be the next Cheers. With luck and the wind behind it, it’ll be lucky to get somewhere near the quality of Springer’s Day.

A cheap set, training film quality acting, more dodgy faux-foreign accents you can shake an episode of Relative Strangers at, and an odd pace that means it’s about 94% bad soap opera, 6% sitcom. The upshot of this is that the half-hearted canned laughter only kicks in about once every five minutes, which feels frankly odd. Pretending you’ve got a studio full of people heartily guffawing it up is one thing, pretending they’ve all been bussed in just to play spot-the-gag is another. It’s clearly made in order to teach The Foreigns to speak English, but we’re not letting it get away that easily. There’s a whole archive of 1980s BBC-1 Sunday morning output that can do the job a million times more effectively.

The action, such as it is, is infrequently broken up with info-breaks in place of adverts. Short sequences on How To Go On A Job Interview, or clips from Crossroads Café subtitled with what the lines were there for (“What is *his* name?” etc) pop up every five minutes or so, bookended by quite probably the worst animation ever (“Three frames of animation for a scene? We’re not bloody Pixar, you know!”). Unfortunately, the huge TrendsTV on-screen logo obscures many of the subtitled headings, so any Johnny Foreigner trying to learn English from these screenings will remain blissfully unaware of what The Queen’s Full-Stops look like.

Ident Watch: A ghastly low quality NTSC’d up CGI effort, with the channel title being beaten roughly about the text by someone having their first ever go at a trial version of Adobe After Effects.

Picture Quality: You know what YouTube videos look like when you make them fill your screen? Slightly worse than that.

Oh dear. Will our next venture into uncharted waters be any better?

Two out of ten.


11.426 H | Symbol Rate 27.5 | F.E.C. 2/3 | Channel Name: Brit Shorts

What is it?

It looks to be a soft-launch of a forthcoming showcase for short British films. For now, it is broadcasting a series of short films from what we presume is their parent channel, France’s ShortsTV.

What was on?

Despite the title of the channel, some sort of utterly bizarre French-language animation. A woman visits a dating agency, then gets dressed up as a giant turkey to meet some bloke in an airport who doesn’t like her much. Then another woman travels with Santa (and his little dog) to visit some tiny body builders. She isn’t very happy, but then bumps into some bigger body builders, so she scarpers with them, in another sleigh that was just lying around. Santa gives chase, and turns her into a slug outside the airport seen previously. The dating agency woman leaves the airport, and slips on the newly beslugged-up sleigh-woman. At the airport bar, they all laugh about it afterwards, though. Roll credits.

Then, onto a grainy monochrome effort, again in French, where a car contains four drunken blokes. They soon accidentally run over and kill a boy scout. For a minute, they feel quite bad about it, until the one of them gets annoyed, and starts beating up the corpse. Then they just chuck the body away instead. Feeling that they’ve dealt with the situation effectively, they turn around, only to see the rest of the scout troop wandering along, wondering where boy one is. A rock soundtrack kicks in, as a montage of the men attacking the two scoutmasters begins. Then an argument between the men starts, until they are interrupted by the sound of nearby Gendarme whistling. One of them does a cheesy grin, and the credits roll. Possibly it was from the French version of Jam.

Then, another French short, about a small boy having his birthday party interrupted by half-a-dozen women in leggings. They seem to be acting as some sort of co-stepmother. Retreating to his room, he begins to think about Star Wars. Moving to a Star Wars poster on his wall, we can see he has drilled a hole giving a view of his co-stepmothers’ bedroom. Jump cut. As a track-suited man with an afro peers through the hole at the pervyness therein, Boy mends the head on his Luke Skywalker action figure. The man is so pleased with the view, he damages his neck somehow. Nonetheless, he is still pleased by his experience, and duly pays Boy up. As he walks out of the room, the corridor is lined with more men, eager for some peep-hole panty neck-hurt action. Cut to a conference being given by one of the men from the corridor, now in a neck-brace. As he completes his speech, the other men in the room applaud. They are also wearing neck-braces.

Then, another one started. It looked like it was going to involve an old woman getting undressed for a bath, so we promptly put Match Of The Day on instead. Brr.

Ident Watch: Four shorts in, we didn’t see a single one. Poor show.

Picture Quality: Good. Despite our mobile phone camera making them look poor.

Once it gets going fully, and once there are some shows we can actually understand, this could be one to keep an eye on. Until then, a bit like a non-stop French version of the Japanese Jam Films series. A good thing.

Seven out of ten.

Meanwhile; exciting BBC HD news! They took the BBC HD dog off the screen for tonight’s premiere episode of Party Animals, the new political drama from the people behind This Life. As you might expect, it was basically This Life but about people who work for politicians, and was subsequently terrible. Hopefully, they’ll ditch the logo for some good programmes and hopefully some movies, too.

And what of the Celebrity Big Brother Fame-O-Watch? Well, here you go. We’re not really going to write any more about it now, because it’s all over, so we can stop caring. It’s a bit like how Germany versus Italy is a must see television event if they play each other in the World Cup Finals, but if they’re meeting in a European Championships qualifier, it’s all you can do to glance at the Sky Sports News Infobar to see the result.

So, in summary: blah Shilpa blah blah Jade getting lot of increased attention for obvious reasons blah still won't buy any records by Towers Of London blah. All info taken the morning after the final, but we've not had time to upload it until now. And yes, we *are* still in love with Shilpa Shetty.


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