Sunday, 22 April 2007

Who Knew?

Well, practically everyone by this point, but we're guessing they're still going to do some sort of 'how we did it' shock reveal at the end of the series.

Thanks to vigilant viewers Stephen Piers and Adam Aitch. BrokenTV goodie bags would be winging their ways towards you both were they to exist and could somehow be sent via email.

Is it time for another picture of a storyboard for a series of The Paul Daniels Magic Show, from the days when magic on telly was better? YES IT IS.


Thursday, 19 April 2007

Raiders Of The Loft Archive: Part Two

Umpteen months ago, a visit to BrokenTV's parents led to the scanning of some old magazine interviews with people who have become more famous since (Bill Bailey, Jon Stewart, and some bloke called Jerry Seinfeld). Here, belatedly, is part two of it. And, for the record, we thought of that title ages before the underwhelming look back at the ITV archive hosted by The Rubbish One Off Of Phoenix Nights. Just to clarify.

Another collection of recovered magazines included a copy of Loaded from November 1995. In amongst the woefully 'laddish' advertisements (Phwoar! What about tits eh, lads? Eh? Tits! Phwoar! Anyway, why not move your bank account to us, we have very competitive rates) was an interview with Lord Harry Hill as he arrives in New York, ready for his first appearance on the Letterman show.

(Readers may wish to click their mouse buttons whilst over the following thumbnails, in order to enlarge the following images into a shiny new browser window. Or shiny new tab, if you're using a modern browser that features the tabulated method of browsing.)

As you might expect, it's worth a read.

Plus it includes some exclusive scribbled artwork of NYC by Lord Harry himself. And an anecdote about Malcolm Hardee kicking someone in the bollocks.

So, how did the whole visit to the USA work out for Harry?

(Spoiler brackets)

Quite obviously, 'Dave' decided to prolong a section of the show where nothing actually happened and which amused absolutely nobody but himself for a large portion of the programme, necessitating Harry getting bumped from the show. Which seems to happen to somebody pretty much every single time we've tried to watch his show. Which is why we can't bloody stand 'Dave' frigging Letterman in the first place. Because he is shit. Which is why, no matter how many times ITV decide to bung it onto one of their digital outlets, it'll always end up moving from a primetime slot to around 3am, before quietly getting dropped altogether.

And relax.


Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Old Spooky-Chops is back

Back in the days of BrokenTV’s formative years, when it was less a blog than a page torn from the back of an exercise book scrawled on in leaky biro, it had a really rubbish kind of running ‘joke’ between some of its closest chums. Quite often used to pass the time on the way to another daredevil wheeze involving trees, a canal and a really excellent rope swing, there would be an unofficial contest to see who could improvise the longest, most convoluted joke possible. The twist in the seemingly endless tale being that the punchline had to be stultifyingly and overwhelmingly pointless. And that was about it. Well, it was either that or discuss whether anyone we knew had got the foil Liverpool badge in their Football ’85 sticker album yet. Yes, it really is quite fortunate that Thomas Hughes never decided to write a novel about our childhoods. And not just because he’d died 78 years before we were born.

Anyway, while we don’t remember Darren Brown (yes, we’re calling him that on purpose) being a part of our schoolyard clique, we still have a nagging doubt that he was following us around on those balmy August afternoons with a notepad, because he seems to have based an entire series on that very premise. Confused? Well, here’s our synopsis of the first episode of his new series, Trick or Treat.

"I knew you were going to call me that. Aah."

The episode begins with Darren lurking about outside the house of his victim in the middle of the night. Richard Victim, looking quite remarkably like Tubes from Soccer AM, had previously signed a release form allowing Darren to do pretty much what he likes with him. Subsequently, Darren sneaks into him room at 3am, and shoves another contract in the face of a sleepily bewildered Victim, asking him to sign it. Then, Darren asks Victim to pick one of two cards. One is marked ‘Trick’, where something nasty will happen to Richard Victim. The other is marked ‘Nice’, meaning that something ‘nice’ will happen to Victim. Unbeknownst to Victim, the card he chooses is the one marked ‘Trick’. Obviously, because where would the excitement be in having the first episode end with something nice happening to someone? On Super Edgy Friday Night Channel Four? Eh? With the card picked, Darren sneaks off, rummaging through Victim’s kitchen drawers looking for his passport.

Then, cut to a bit of business involving Choc Rolls, The League of Gentlemen and razor blades, and some adverts.

Part two. We now see Richard Victim ambling into town trying to get a new passport photo taken. Presumably because his passport had mysteriously disappeared the morning after spooky-chops had sneaked into his bedroom, but this isn’t explained fully. Guess what, readers? Darren Brown’s crack squad of prop-makers have only assembled a ‘fake’ passport-photo-taking machine in a location where Richard Victim (and presumably NO-ONE ELSE) is likely to wander. What are the odds, eh? Victim does indeed venture beyond the curtains of the mysterious booth, only to be sent to sleep by the monotonous tones of Darren Brown. What will happen next? Well, he’ll be dragged out of the booth, taken to Heathrow Airport, and plonked on a flight to Morocco. Tee hee!

Some people never learn.

After a further bit of previously filmed business, introduced by a Darren Brown voiceover stating how Americans are much more stupid than everyone else, where Darren Brown tries to pull a psychological trick on some Americans in New York, only he doesn’t quite do it right, but they pretend to be impressed anyway to save his blushes (doing a ‘magic trick’ that needs to end with you stating “well, I got most of the word right!” isn’t really good enough to go on telly, Darren). Back to the show proper.

Richie Victim, still out for the count, has now arrived in Marrakech, Morocco. In a corner of a small shop, a team of Darren Brown henchmen are hurriedly reconstructing the fake photo booth, just in time to confine an almost-woken Victim. At the right moment, the crew all retire to their special hiding places, and the luckless Victim awakes.

At this point, the watching millions can barely suppress a collective guffaw as Victim leaves the booth, finding to his massive bemusement that, no! yes!, he’s now in the middle of a foreign country full of snakes. Looking a bit surprised, he wanders around for a bit, sort of wondering exactly what is going on. And…. And…… Aaaaaand…..

Well, there’s the rub. All that happens then is a couple of captions. The first stating that the crew were watching him throughout all of this, and making sure that he doesn’t come to any actual harm. The second stating that they finally told him what was going on when he found the airport, and he was quite relieved that he wasn’t suffering a massive Life On Mars-type coma after all. But, we don’t actually see any of that. Or how he got to the airport. Or how he discovered what country he was in. Or anything. Just sixty seconds of footage of Richard Victim wandering around being understandably bewildered. That was it. The whole set up, the entire Machiavellian plot involving smuggling an unconscious person through two large airports in major cities, and all they bothered broadcasting at the end of it was a confused bloke in a crowd for around a minute.

I know we should be grateful they aren’t just transmitting continuous footage of live badgers having their faces rubbed into cheese graters, or even worse, another series of Born Sloppy, but really. Jeepers, frankly.

Still, it’s not as if Channel Four have become so monumentally lackadaisical they can’t even spell the name of the person behind the most profitable sitcom in their entire history correctly, is it?

Oh dear.

Still, at least Peep Show is still as excellent as ever.


It's a scan of a storyboard for the title sequence to a series of The Paul Daniels Magic Show.


Wednesday, 4 April 2007


Managing to learn nothing from the mistakes of others, the ‘creatives’ at Sony have chosen to launch their latest overpriced electronic TV game with an advert that might as well be for an insurance company or mobile phone network.

In a nutshell: a man and woman arrive at a crummy holiday resort in the midst of an argument. Then the maid cleaning the room of a kind of John Locke-type bloke in another room conspires to lose a hand grenade, for it to get found by the stereotypically fluffy small dog of the kind of gay man who doesn’t actually exist anywhere outside of low-budget 1970s British comedy movies. Then the pin somehow is pulled out of the grenade, and via a passing foreign footballer and joke stolen from Dave Allen At Large, ends up next to the suitcase of the arguing couple, where it explodes with precisely enough force to destroy the case itself, but not the contents of the case, or any of the surrounding area. As unscathed banknotes flutter all around, stock-foreigner-type-47 utters the three word phrase that you just know took several months of focus grouping, ‘board storming’, and thousands of dollars paid to people who should be killed with shovels, “this is living”.

This is all well and good, except it clearly doesn’t work. At least the Xbox 360 “cops and robbers car chase” adverts had people playing some sort of game with each other (even if it had just got Microsoft a stern telling off from the ASA, despite the fact the ad was plastered with patronising warning messages). This is just a stupid waste of money; figures recently uncovered show that exactly £249 of the PlayStation3’s £425 RRP has gone straight to funding this marketing campaign. And the three times we saw the ‘teaser’ adverts for the campaign (which were exactly the same as the advert proper, the only difference being it didn’t say ‘PlayStation3’ at the end), we’d just assumed the website address was for the re-launch of Living “Not Just For Women Any More, You Know” TV. And even then, we didn’t really care.

If they had learned from the errors of the past, they’d have realised that this sort of thing frequently leads to the downfall of many a brand, extra-especially when all that pops up at the end is a website address. The thinking behind such campaigns clearly being “the consumers will be so energised by our cleverly cryptic commercial, they’re all going to check out the website, and subsequently the product will be sold! We’re so good at marketing!” Of course, in realityville, people stay seated in front of their televisions waiting for the second half of the football to kick off, and by the time they next get around to going on the internet, the 3% of viewers who might have been interested in the advert have forgotten if it was a dotcom,, -tv, or if the words had any hyphens in between them, and it’s not really worth finding out. Because, and any campaign-synergisers reading this might want to take note, they were actually only watching television because of the large chunks of programming that occur in between the adverts.

Oh, and minus several trillion bonus points any advertising people who think running such an advert-with-only-a-web-address-at-the-end-that-doesn’t-even-say-what-the-product-is in the cinema is anything other than the world’s stupidest idea. They’re only going to be walking away from that multiplex with an opinion on the film they’ve watched, not in a clamour to see what actually does once the 2460kb Flash intro has finished preloading.

But anyway, this lengthy intro is only here as a prelude to BrokenTV’s Top Three Rubbish Advertising Campaigns That Didn’t Say What They Were Actually Selling, And Which Subsequently Failed Massively. Join us as we don an ironic suit and walk down the road holding an oversized haddock whilst wearing a wry smile to the sound of The Supernaturals, for some reason which we’re not going to adequately explain.


Real quote from MeejaGrauniad: "My real, real favourite right now is What they're trying to do is be a true lifestyle product. You can do SMS, you can do Wap, you can do Voice . . . it's brilliant." As if anyone ever gave a flying shit about 'doing' WAP.

A man walks out of his house in moody Flame-o-vision. Along the way to wherever his destination might be, others join him. Eventually, he arrives at a beach. The only sound is of the massed throng breathing noisily. The voiceover utters the phrase ‘It's amazing what happens when you breathe’. Well, you don’t drop dead, for starters.

An ISP, but not that you’d know from the advert. And as such, you wouldn’t then make the decision to move to them for your ISPing needs. And so, it had to resort to the monumentally stupid decision to offer people £50 ‘lifetime’ unmetered internet subscriptions, this at a pre-FRIACO time when most ISPs had to charge per-minute in order to break even.

What sort of company was it? Well, apart from being the kind of start-up that insists on writing it’s name in lower-case, the sort that would come out with the following drivel: "[B]reathe's target audience represents the core of the future modern technology market. They are 18-35 years old and are mostly active mobile socialisers and technology sophisticates, united by brands and media whose values fit with their own. They are [B]reathe's 'Modern Urbanists'." Kind of makes you glad they went bust shortly afterwards, doesn’t it?


This competition might still be open, you know.

A geek dressed in sportswear vomited into a bin. How could it possibly fail?

It was for, an online sportswear company with illusions of grandeur that went up the wall hilariously quickly. That’s what you get for referring to yourselves as “a gateway to world cool”. Of course, running lots of advertising for your website two months before it actually launches doesn’t help much. More info on boo at Wikipedia.

NUMBER ONE (1999) didn't help us much here. Still, we're quite pleased to have foiled Scoot's attempt to stop us doing this screengrab, by deftly evading the robots(.txt) they'd despatched to destroy us.

There were actually lots of short adverts, sometimes several in the same commercial break, featuring people ‘doing’ ‘stuff’, and then remarking how it looks like they need a scoot. Whatever one of those was. Then the brave (i.e. shit) company logo would flash on screen, and six million awestruck viewers would forego the second half of Strike It Rich in order to get their 56k modems to find out what it was all about. In theory.

WHAT WAS IT FOR?, a sort of proto-118118 directory enquiries and listings service. Except nobody really knew it was that at the time, and couldn’t really be bothered to find out what it was. It’s still going now, but still doesn’t seem to know what it’s there for. Mind you, we’ve ill-advisedly bought a domain name on a whim before now, it’s just that we didn’t have a multi-million pound marketing blitz shortly afterwards (we put up a holding page with a rubbish joke on it, and that was about it).

Yes, all for ill-fated dotcom boom companies that are quite easy to search for. Well, you try remembering advertising campaigns that were so crap no-one can remember them, especially when you’re as forgetful as us. We frequently go to work leaving our front door unlocked, you know, it’s a miracle we can remember how to type in the words for an entire blog post without stopping and wondering whether we left the bath running yesterday evening or not.

But anyway, how should Sony be promoting their new machine? They could start by taking their lead from surely the greatest series of adverts for a videogame console EVER.

Yes, that grainy picture is correct. It really is Lord Eric Morecambe, in a pair of Pac-Man Deeley Boppers, playing on an Atari 2600. Mad props to NOTBBC for putting these links onto YouTube:


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