Friday, 30 May 2008

How The Almost Mighty Have Fallen

Back in December 2007, in our end of year awards, we proclaimed as our Wallpaper TV Channel Of The Year, noting that it makes "a lovely diversion if you're awake near a television on a Sunday morning". Nestled comfortably on Sky channel 144 (just next to BBC HD), it was in a perfect position to be stumbled across while the channel you're watching has cut to adverts, or you're waiting for That Mitchell And Webb Look to start.

Sadly, the lure of filthy lucre saw Sumo depart the 144 and 145 slots in our EPG in April, to make way for Discovery's "Bravo for geeks" channel DMAX. As a result, Sumo dropped down the EPG league table a little bit. If around 435 places down the list, to channel 875, qualifies as 'a little bit'. Which it doesn't. It was once next door neighbours with More4 and BBC HD. Now it has to put up with Chat Box popping around to borrow some sugar and asking Teachers TV to please keep the noise down.

All of this comes not too long after new Chief Creative Type James Brown (he of Loaded and the criminally ignored Jack magazine fame) promoted the new programming created for the fledgeling channel, stating in an interview with Digital Spy that
We have developed lots of new shows around themed content. So far it has been short attention span TV. If you are coming in and having a spliff after the pub, it's great to stick on. You are getting short hits. Now we are giving appointments to view. Before, we have not really used presenters much. Now we are bringing in three or four presenters.

And entertaining enough it was, too. Especially if there's still room for marvellous archive material like One Got Fat (specially re-edited to appear 36% more disturbing). With this in mind, what did we find when checking out in it's slightly less glamorous new home?

Bah. Tits and text messages. Usually there'd either be some classic clipola, or at least 1950s B-movie shunted to the public domain on at this time of night. Well, maybe it's more impressive later in the morning, where all the archivery used to be transmitted.

Nope, it's now a Non-stop Waste £1.50 Putting Some Text On A TV Channel No-One Is Watching Channel, just like all the other ones up the shitty end of the Sky EPG. Nice to see the £1.4million parent company Cellcast received for those slots has been well re-invested then. A bit of a shame, all round, really.

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Eurovision Blog: LIVE!

[8pm] We're off to a good start, with the BBC making an on-air apology about last year's Making Your Mind Up, and the lack of money given to charity at the time. It looks superb in HDTV.

Confluence of Sound is this year's title, it seems. The show kicks off with a woman singing a capella that Tel likens to a grumpy Jimmy Krankie. We reckon she looks more like Joe Pesquale. She proceeds to rip several layers of clothing off a woman standing next to her, leaving her wearing a half-dress, half-suit combo. And still, the singing continues, still without instrumental backing. If it's like this all the way through, we can't see us making it to half past eight, let alone all the way through.

[8.05] A bit of music has piped up in the background, then faded away again, suggesting this is an audio cock-up rather than by design. It certainly looked stupid having backing dancers when there's no actual music.

[8.07] Tel's eye has caught the attractive host. "Hello yourself," he replies to her greeting. You sly old dog, Toggers.

[8.09] First up, it's Romania with Nico and Vlad with Pe-o Margine de Lume. One minute in, and we can just make out some music over the singing. It's disappointingly bland and generic. Plus, it's in Romanian. Tsk. We've already swung it so the host's announcements are all in English despite the UK taking up a tiny proportion of the European population, why can't we force them all to sing in English?

[8.13] Speaking of singing in English, here come Our Brave Boys, more specifically Andy Abraham performing Even If. And we've just made the startling discovery that the backing music is almost totally inaudible on BBC HD only. Switching to BBC One just to check almost saw us propelled backwards by sheer force of volume. Like that bloke in the 1980s Maxell adverts. Once we drag the volume to a more polite level, it's not too bad, considering it's a British Eurovision entry.

[8.17] Seventeen minutes in, and we've got our first belly button of the evening (thanks for pointing that out, Terry), courtesy of Albania's Olta Boka. She's singing Zemrën E Lamë Peng. which is probably going down a storm on the Albanian equivalent of Radio Two. And here's a picture of her we've culled from Wikipedia, to try and distract everyone from the fact that this live blogging isn't very interesting yet. It's not our fault there aren't any bald blokes in tight suits chanting about how they're going to win Euro 2008 or something.

[8.20] Germany now. No Angels performing a song called Disappear. More standard Eurovision fare. Given the fact that each country really wants to win this thing, and that you're allowed to bring in overseas 'talent', why on earth hasn't anyone snapped up Girls Aloud?

[8.24] Armenia, whose flag is represented by a crap clown. Sirusho are about to perform their Qele Qelere, so they're cavorting around like they're the opening ceremony for the Olympics, if the Olympics were being held in Shetland. The music still isn't coming through properly on BBC HD. Wonder how many people have been watching it all this time, wondering what the ruddy hell is going on. It'll probably prove a boon for amateur 'mash up' deejays, looking to meld Zemrën E Lamë Peng with The Strokes.

[8.28] Yay! Here's Bosnia's Laka doing Pokušaj, essentially some berks dressed up in funny costumes. The bloke has a drawn-on moustache we think, and a bottle green school blazer. The woman is hanging up some washing whilst wearing a funny dress. So idea what they're on about, but at least it's fun. We Brits like to think we're the de facto masters of irony - why can't we pull something like this?

Again: yay!

[8.31] Off to Belgrade City Hall. It's turned into Children in Need, it seems.

[8.33] Israel's turn, with a song written by Dana International. Sadly, Boaz isn't dressed up outrageously, so we've kind of lost interest already. Why not do something more interesting on stage, Boaz? Rip off that OK Go video with the treadmills, or something. Like that yoghurt advert has done.

[8.37] Finland. Teräsbetoni doing Missä miehet ratsastaa. It's 1980s-style heavy metal! In Finnish! And while the singer looks a little bit like the bloke from Nickelback, they're not shit! The winner, we're saying. Everyone else might as well go home. And we don't actually like heavy metal music. It's so ball-kickingly loud that you can even hear the music on BBC HD. Hell, it's so loud you could probably even hear it on QVC. Look everyone, we've done a joke!

"There's men!" announces Tel. Ace.

[8.41] Croatia now. Kraljevi Ulice and 75 cents performing Romanca. They've got the best flag in Europe, but will they have the best song? It's an old bloke in a white suit. And another slightly younger man in a black suit. They both have hats. There's a dancer in a frock. A gramophone on a table. And the old man has started shouting things. Eurovision is up and running now! We don't know which one is 75 Cents, but if it's the old shouting man, he literally is twenty-five cents better than 50 Cent.

Now he's scratching the gramophone record like a septuagenarian Mixmaster Mike! Marvellous! Another potential winner.

[8.45] Poland are up, Isis Gee, For Life. We're with Doug Stanhope when it comes to Polish women, although as feminists, we don't quite agree with his dick-sucking employment policy for them. We suspect lots of tedious racists in pubs right now are making jocular remarks about her coming over here to work in a chip shop on Monday.

Oh, and cheers to an anonymous commentgoer for letting us know the HD sound is working now. It's like we're the Guardian football website or something!

[8.49] Reverting to type now, with Iceland's euroband, erm, Euroband. If Steps were Icelandic, they'd be Euroband. This Is My Life is precisely the sort of song we used to fast forward through when listening to the imported German dance compilations we'd bought from Wrexham's mighty Phase One Records in the early-to-mid 1990s.

[8.53] Turkey have also gone for the rock option, but sadly Mor ve Ötesi's 'Deli' doesn't hit the same heights as Finland's entry. Still, it gives us time to put the kettle on, so it's not all bad. 'Deli' means 'crazy' in English, by the way. I'm sure most Turkish-speaking visitors to New York allow themselves a wry grin each time they see a delicatessen.

[8.56] We're off to the green room. And more shouty Serbian hosts squabbling with each other. They're quite annoying, to be honest, and they don't actually do anything.

[8.58] Back to the main hosts. The male host has the tiniest beard ever worn by a man, taking the world record away from Tony Almeida in the first series of 24.

[9.00] Portugal. Vânia Fernandes singing Senhora do Mar (Negras Águas). It's a bit rubbish. We're off to get some crisps. Hope there's some prawn cocktail Quavers left.

[9.02] Bah. Only salt and vinegar ones.

[9.03] Christ's soupy beard. Latvia's entry is a hi-NRG sea shanty, with a bunch of people in camp pirate outfits waxing lyrical on what it's like to be a pirate. The band are called Pirates of the Sea and the sing is Wolves of the Sea. It's surprisingly ace. Another possible winner, which would lead to inevitably po-faced reporting of the fact in the news.

"Ya ha ha!" shouts Sir Tel as the song closes.

[9.07] Sweden have chosen a monochrome woman to do their song.

[9.08] Oh, she's in colour now. How did they do that. It did distract from the blandness of the song, at least. Charlotte Perrelli, Hero. Now some backing singers have appeared. They should have just forced Whale to reform. Whale were brilliant.

[9.10] Denmark, whose flag is represented by two blokes chucking a woman into a box and then sealing it. Whuh? Ooh, Christ. All Night Long, performed by the not-particularly Danish sounding Simon Mathew is quite dull. And it doesn't help that Simon Mathew seems to be a bit of a Chico character. If that box is soundproof, we can see just what that woman in the flag sequence was thinking of. We've made our second joke of the night!

[9.14] Georgia's Diana Gurtskaya hopes that Peace Will Come. Meh. Meanwhile, over on Betfair Ukraine are the big favourites, with Russia not far behind. Latvia are 47/1! We're sorely tempted to put a fiver on it, just in case. With Finland on 37/1, that's another reasonable bet. Are these people backing Russia and Ukraine based purely on national preconceptions here, or have they all heard the songs?

[9.18] Here's our chance to find out. It's the woman herself, Ani Lorak (pictured) doing Shady Lady. What a rubbish title. The song itself isn't anything too special, if you ask us, but they've certainly prepared their dance moves well in advance. We can't see why this is the favourite, aside from the accusations of international everyone-pick-on-Britain collusion that we've been bombarded with over the last week.

[9.21] Tel is warning us again not to phone in, or he'll get in trouble. That'd certainly make for an interesting new incentive by the BBC Trust. If we phone up trying to vote someone out from The Apprentice, will they set about Alan Sugar with big sticks?

[9.23] France's Sébastien Tellier singing 'Divine'. Women in beards. The singer on a Hank Kingsley-issue golf cart. And a very catchy song that we've heard on 6Music before now. Sung in English, much to the chagrin of the French. It's easily the best actual song of the night, so much so that we might even buy it. It's got that special kind of pop hook that wriggles underneath your skin and doesn't go away until you buy it. Criminally, it's 94/1 on Betfair to win.

[9.27] Azerbaijan win the award for the first country of the night that we've had to check the spelling of. Elnur and his gang are dressed as angels, while Samir and his minions have come as the devil. Together they perform Day After Day, They both look quite silly.

[9.30] Greece's turn, with the glamorous Kalomira. She reminds us a bit of Dannii Minogue, and her song Secret Combination is nice enough. We're going to go out on a limb here, and predict this will get the maximum twelve points from a small island beginning with 'C'.

[9.34] Ooh, now we're talking. Spain's turn, and they've elected to be represented by a Rolf Harris impersonator playing a child's toy guitar-cum-keyboard, with a troupe of foxy bouffanted babes. Rodolfo Chikilicuatre is his name, and the magnificently titled Baila el Chiki Chiki is his song. He might just be the greatest Spaniard ever to don a beard since Rafa Benitez. 69/1 on Betfair, but that's not stopping us putting his picture atop this post.

[9.38] Host nation Serbia's turn, and quite brilliantly it's a dwarf with a banjo singing My Lovely Horse from off of Father Ted. Oh, alright then. Jelena Tomašević and Bora Dugić performing Oro. The crowd go mad, but we'd rather have used Live Rewind to hear Baila el Chiki Chiki again.

[9.42] Russia, represented by a bloke who's forgotten to put his shoes on, the chump. Dima Bilan and Believe. We're going to prepare a graph instead of listen to this.

[9.46] Norway. Last up, it's Maria singing Hold On Be Strong. Hang on, Maria? You're only meant to be able to get away with using one name in the world of pop when it's an unusual one. Kylie. Sting. Madonna. Not 'Maria'. Bah. We tore ourselves away from an Excel pivot table for this?

[9.51] A huge Serbian basketball star (in both senses of the word) takes to the stage. Both senses of the word 'huge', not the word 'star'. That would just be silly, as the entire venue would be destroyed if a massive, luminous ball of plasma was brought up to declare the phone lines open. Tsk. Oh, and the phone lines are now open.

[9.56] Pre-empting the inevitable kicking we're going to get in the phone votes (mainly because we've got one of the more forgettable songs), here's something we've just knocked up during the recap of the songs. Taking the information on Wikipedia for the languages the songs were performed in, here's a pie chart for you.

So, we've won Eurovision. In a way.

[10.00] We're still working our way through a recap of all songs. This is a good way to determine a winner, seeing each song distilled into a six-second soundbite outlines just how catchy each song is. The UK's track comes over as pretty forgettable, as do many others, while the songs from Latvia and France grab your attention quite instantly. Ukraine are even bigger favourites on Betfair now, at just 2.8, although we don't think they'll win.

[10.06] A spurious countdown marks the closing of the phone lines, along with a pleading caption from the Beeb imploring us not to call any more. We know you don't want another bollocking, but all this is coming over as quite pathetic. You're like Dwayne in Grand Theft Auto IV, BBC. Stop being like Dwayne.

[10.09] Sir Tel has just admitted he can't wait to get drunk afterwards. We're not being sarcastic when we say Terry Wogan is a national blimmin' treasure. Why can't all television presenters be anywhere near as good?

Meanwhile, we've busied ourselves by checking out Rodolfo Chikilicuatre's official website. Will it live up to our hopes?

Hell, yeah. Everyone do 'El Robocop'.

[10.15] Well, there's still an oom-pah band up on stage, as they have been for the last ten minutes. Meanwhile, Tel has just been given some lovely chocolates by his Belarussian counterpart.

[10.17] The votes are about to start flooding in. Tel's getting a name check on stage, which is nice.

[10.18] The realisation that we're about to spend the next hour of our one and only life listening to various Europeans reading out lists of countries and numbers dawns. We could probably get to Bargain Booze and back in fifteen minutes. Hmm. If only it wasn't closed.

[10.20] Phew. They're only reading out the top three scores from each nation, the lower scores just pop up on screen. That's much better than the previous method, while lasted about three weeks. Albania get twelve points from the Macedonian presenter, who appears to be some sort of Timmy Mallett looky-likey.

[10.25] We really can't be bothered commenting on the people reading out numbers, so here's a look at the website for Pirates Of The Sea.

They've got a forum!

Meanwhile, we've got our first points. Thanks for the pity voting, people of San Marino.

[10.30] Ukraine are slipping down the betting now, to third place. Told you they won't win. Turkey - third place in the voting - are still 19/1. Fill your boots.

[10.33] Bosnia-Herzegovina's entry gets twelve points from someone, much to the annoyance of Tel. Lighten up, sir! The UK are now second to last in the table. Will Cyprus give us some points?

[10.34] No. Greece got their twelve points, though.

[10.36] The scruffily attired Moldovan presenter is trying to eke every last second from his appearance. Come on, man. You're like the least famous celebrity presenting an award at an awards show, frantically and quite pathetically trying to make a name for yourself.

[10.38] No wonder no-one votes for us. This is three hours of live primetime television, and about 90% of the total television audience has to sit through the majority of it listening to a language they don't understand. If all the commentary on the BBC and ITV coverage of Euro 2008 was in German, there'd be an armed uprising.

Here's a question for any Eurovision buffs reading this: does the coverage in other Eurovision nations include commercial breaks? There's no gap left for any, but if it's as popular as it's made out to be, surely it'd be a goldmine for the commercial stations.

[10.46] The award for Best Fake Tan And Whitened Teeth of the night goes to the Slovenian presenter. It's as if he was fathered by Dale Winton, although that's statistically unlikely on several levels. The Armenian presenter runs him quite close, but as she's absolutely gorgeous we can forgive her.

[10.48] First cock up of the night - the Czech presenter messes up their results, leaving her perilously close to erupting into a fit of giggles. We're still second from bottom of the table. Not even Malta have given us some points! Expect a furious reaction from the Daily Mail on this matter.

[10.54] Some consolation points from Ireland. The presenter lady almost seemed embarrassed by this. As Poland have also picked up some points, we're now last in the table.

[10.57] We're getting bored of the numbers now. Russia are going to win, we're going to finish last. Happily, we've just discovered Sébastien Tellier's MySpace page. And we've also just discovered that Swedish people have trouble pronouncing Bosnia-Herzegovina. Every day's a school day.

[11.01] Sébastien Tellier fact! Divine was produced by 50% of Daft Punk. Which is why it's so great. We've just bought it. It downloading now. Whee. The results are nearly over, so soon we'll all be able to get on with our lives.

[11.04] Sébastien Tellier fact two! The cover of his album has a bare lady on it.

[11.06] The presenters reading out the results have taken to singing bits of the songs. That isn't really helping anyone. Oh, and Russia have won.

[11.08] And that's pretty much it. The evening ends with the winning song, a shitload of fireworks, and Tel grumbling about how it's all a big fix, and how all the west European countries might as well just stop entering it. Never mind the fact this is the first time Russia have ever won it. Mind you, it's not as if the winning song was anything to write home about, so maybe he's on the money. We don't know. We do like the fact that as next year's contest is going to be in Moscow, there's an outside chance Tatu will make an appearance. We're now definitely going to be watching it again next year.

And with that in mind, what better way to sign off?

See you next year!

The Big BrokenTV Eurovision Preview Show. With Nipples.

Here's a confession for you. In much the same way we've never watched any of the Star Wars trilogy all of the way through (and you'd be surprised how many people get genuinely annoyed when we tell them that), we've never watched an annual Eurovision from start to finish. Well, later on today (i.e. Saturday, as that's what it technically is), we plan to lose our Eurovision virginity, because we care about you, our loyal listeners, we're going to be blogging the whole grisly experience live. Yes, between the hours in which it is broadcast, on a Saturday night, we literally have nothing better to do. Plus. we spent all of our gin money on Friday night. Hey, you've got to set yourself limits.

But that's for later. This preview is here to set the scene for the main event, and what better way to do that than a round up of the TOP THREE EUROVISION APPEARANCES (THAT WE KNOW ABOUT, GIVEN OUR LIMITED KNOWLEDGE OF THE EVENT).


LT United - We Are The Winners (Luthuania 2006)

"But... it's shit!" you might be saying if you haven't clicked on the 'play video' icon yet, and you'd only ever heard about five seconds of it on Radio One Newsbeat two years ago, while they were bemoaning why the rest of Europe have to pick on Britain once again, and how the only way we don't win every year is because of our government's support for the War in Iraq. And you'd be quite spectacularly incorrect to do so. Go click that link. We'll wait.

Ready to yum up those words yet? One of the reasons 'we' like to somehow feel all superior over never winning Eurovision is that we like to assume everyone else treats it the same way 'we' treat the World Cup. The be-all and end-all of everything. But not us merry Britishers, oh no. We treat it as a bit of a laugh, and nothing more. That's why it really sticks in our collective craw when someone else - Lithuania of all people! - treats it with precisely as much disdain as we like to think we do. Only, when we're sneering at those funny European sorts after selecting yet another bland sub-daytime Radio Two travesty to represent all sixty million of us, those swarthy Lituanians go and pull some shit like this.

Odd thing is: it's not actually that bad a song. In fact, it's pretty damn good. No, really. It falls in with BrokenTV's Fifth Rule Of Music in that if a band contains more than two members (one of whom must be lead vocalist) who could pass for managers of your firm's IT department, then they're really good at music. Think about it. Apples In Stereo, Guided By Voices, The Hold Steady - they all fall into this theory.And so do LT United, although admittedly, to a lesser extent.

Odd thing is, parading around whilst dressed sharply, smugly proclaiming you're the best thing since sliced sex is perfectly acceptable when you're Robbie Williams (erm, and it's still 2002). When you have the sheer barefaced audacity to be... foreign - ugh. Especially when you're from one of those frightful ex-Soviet nations that only otherwise seem to pop up to callously steal a couple of qualification points from England when they really need them. Bad show, LT United. In a way, it's your fault Brave John Terry won't be slipping over for penalties in Vienna this summer.


France Gall - Poupée de Cire, Poupée de Son (Luxembourg 1965)

And we didn't even have to look up the year, that's all from memory. Cripes, eh? It's quite clearly a metric mile more impressive and catchy than any of Sir Clifford's efforts, and it roundly kicks anything by Abba up the arse. And for some reason, it has two grown men in romper suits wandering into an oversized mock-up of a nursery. Christ knows why. They don't even do anything when they get there.

More super background info that we don't even have to look up - there was a bit of an uproar in France at the time this scooped the Eurovision. France Gall wasn't from Luxembourg, and nor was the writer of the song, the legendary Serge Gainsbourg. But that doesn't stop it being the second best Eurovision song ever. Heck no. So, in leiu of us knowing much more about Eurovision 1965, here are some other things we know (or at least, think we know) about France Gall.

FRANCE GALL FACT ONE: Serge "The Surge" Gainsbourg continued to write songs for France Gall after Eurovision 1965, but after the people of France discovered that the song "Les Sucettes" was probably about blowjobs (and not, as had been assumed, lollipops), the 18-year-old Gall had to put up with all sorts of palaver, and saw her career take a bit of a nosedive. With that in mind, she ironically never worked with the generously-conked Gainsbourg again, and reportedly still refuses to perform the songs written by him.

FRANCE GALL FACT TWO: The Arcade Fire have an absolutely brilliant cover version of "Poupée de cire, poupée de son" available as a split 7" with LCD Soundsystem, which was available at their concerts for a short while. And, because we're splendid, here it is.

FRANCE GALL FACT THREE: We don't know more than two facts about France Gall. Unless you count the fact that even though she's now sixty, we'd probably still consider it.


Tatu - Ne Ver', Ne Boisia (Russia 2003)

Well, clearly. It's Tatu. The greatest band ever to appear on Eurovision. We even own an actual physical copy of this song. That's how good it is. But, we'll spare you the same spittle-flecked diatribe about how Tatu are actually one of the best bands in the history of the word (if you want to hear that in full, be in the same pub as us any time All About Us pops up on the jukebox - we didn't put it on, we don't even like that song very much - and make any sort of 'tutting' noise about it. We dares ya).

No, instead we're going to simply point to an NSFW uncut copy of the video for Beliy Plaschik, their latest single. It's stunningly excellent. And, with an observation that will in all probability see our penises revoked by the Bloke Police, we're more excited about the fact that it's a brilliant remix of the track than the fact you get to see two of Tatu's nipples (one each, if you're keeping score). But for whichever reason you're considering checking it out, here you go. While stocks last (i.e. us being told to remove it). And see you later for that Live Eurovision Extravaganza.


Thursday, 22 May 2008

My Philosophy Like HDTV / Is All There in Black and White

Speaking as disgruntled Sky+ customers frantically spending every free moment watching everything on our planner before we cancel our contract (because if you want to watch your recordings when not subscribing, you have to give Sky a tenner a month, even if the programmes were on Free-to-air channels), we're delighted to read of Stockport County manager Jim Gannon's Sky+ related protest:

Full story: on the Eurosport website (with a nod to Matthew Rudd's blog, where we heard about this). Much more interesting than not speaking to the BBC because they highlighted the fact that your son is a clearly dodgy football agent.


Tuesday, 20 May 2008

EURO 2008: Homoerotic Website Of The Day

Here's a riff we can run with for quite a while. Liverpool have just signed Swiss international Philipp Degen from Borussia Dortmund on a free transfer. So far, so Jan Kromkamp, you might be saying. But! Philipp and his twin brother David share the quite magnificent Degen Brothers Website. Behold, for you are but one click of the mouse away from Oh, yes.

Phwoar, eh?

Heterosexual males! Thought you were going to see out today without having to re-evaluate your sexuality? Think on!

Now, every time you need to minimise those windows to click on the icon for Firefox, you can get yourself some hot Degen twin action.

Or take in some hot DegenChat.

Sadly, the link to the Degen online store isn't working, so we'll be having to sit through Euro 2008 without the official tight black T-shirt we were hoping on buying. We'll be having to make do with an unofficial bootleg one. Bah.

Rest assured, we'll be registering our displeasure on the Official DegenDegen Forum.

Quite clearly, this is all excellent. We've just checked, and,,,,,,,, and are all still available. If we were slightly more drunk than we are now, we'd be tempted to do us some cybersquatting right about now. That, plus we're still paying off the fees for registering

Monday, 19 May 2008

A New Service From Broken Industries

Inspired by the Lovefilm subscription we're a week and a half into, we've decided to employ a new method of updating the blog. All to serve YOU, the customer. Here's how our new service, LoveBrokenTV is going to operate.


You give us your credit card number. Don't worry, we promise not to charge anything to it just yet. As long as you adhere to every single one of the interminably long list of terms and conditions we'll wave in front of your face, anyway. Oh, and your address as well.


You pick the updates YOU want! So that we can be sure we're capable of coming up with content in a timeframe that suits YOU, we really want you to pick ten potential subjects, but from our comprehensive list of over twelve possible topics, we're sure you'll be spoiled for choice!


Tell us how much YOU would like to see each individual topic arriving at your desktop, and which you're not too bothered about. That's right! YOU get to say which of the many enthralling topics on offer you would like to see first! Excellent!


You wait. Within 48 hours, the content YOU have decided upon will be written and put online.
Subject to availability.

It really is that simple!

So, ready to go? To show you how it works, as a fully accurate mirror of our experiences with Lovefilm, we've filled in a form all ready for you. Just check the listing below is okay, and then wait. Our dedicated team of writer will prepare your update, and it will be with you shortly.

Now, all you do is wait.


[Sound effect: Ding-dong!]

The internet post man is here! Time to receive our custom designed update!

Yeah, now if it took you more than 14 days to watch that, you now owe us a tenner.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Almost Beyond Parody

Ah, nuts. And we were so looking forward to it.

As far as we're concerned, the glittery slickness that simply has to be applied to network programming in the US really works against it here. From the trailer, which of course should have a clear objective of encapsulating the entire series in a ninety-second snapshot, it simply doesn't look 'dated' enough, making it a little hard to 'get' the entire point. And the American Gene Hunt is clearly all wrong. He's not even having 'Hoops. Bah. If someone had presented us with a transcription of that trailer, we'd have assumed it was a particularly underwhelming Dead Ringers skit. And that's really damning.

Speculative UK Ratings Prediction: After they spend an absolute fortune obtaining the rights, the pilot episode will provide Virgin One with a record audience. Sadly, by the time episode three rolls around, 75% of that audience have disappeared.

Friday, 9 May 2008

EPG Week: Day Four

First things first, anyone who'd read yesterday's update (as opposed to just muttering "Christ, are they still on about EPGs" and moving on to B3TA or something) might want to take note of the correction we've made. It turns out that Paul Dacre is wrong, and that the BBC aren't pure evil. Who'd have thunk, eh?

EPG Five: DirecTV

Yes, we're off to the States to see the programme guide for the television service known to American viewers of the Extras Christmas special as Direct TV. And it's...

Original photostream: here, completists.

Yeah. While it's quite nice to see Adult Swim listed as an actual channel on something, EPG week isn't really going anywhere is it? And we'd so hoped we'd be able to find wonderfully lo-fi Russian cable TV showing repeats of Benny Hill Interactive, or Moldova's equivalent of Sky Sports News.

By way of apology, here's a scan of a Loaded article about Cluub Zarathustra. Click the small picture to make another more big picture appear on your screen.

We've thought of a new riff that we're slightly more confident of holding our interest for more than three days. As soon as we can tear ourselves away from multiplayer GTA4 for long enough to do something about it, you shall see. OH YES YOU SHALL.

We're still top of the Google rankings for "HDR-9300FS" by the way. And that's out of what's now 33 results. Go us.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

EPG Week: Day Three

Must... maintain... interest in... ill-considered running... theme... [deep breath]


Here's something that makes us wish our (original, modded) Xbox wasn't broken. Ah, the folly of dicking around with your default.xbe file*. A custom script for XBMC that allows the users to get the Beeb's iPlayer working on their proper telly. And not just in a little window on their big telly (like iPlayer running on the Wii). Excellent.

(*The result of which being that switching on the Xbox results in a "cannot read the disc, the disc may be dirty or damaged" error, even though there isn't a disc in the drive. Can anyone help us with that?)

Or, at least: it should be.

The people behind the custom script even got to visit the BBC in order to show off their magical wares. The BBC Backstage blog have a whole Flickr album devoted to the presentation. And here it is.

On display at the Beeb. It'd be doubly ace if The BBC already had a modded Xbox, but we're guessing the people behind the demo took their own with them.

Looks pretty ace, doesn't it? Certainly better than the unhelpful web interface for iPlayer, which is tremendously picky to use on an iPod Touch.

Here's another shot of it. Note the polite notice that the script isn't endorsed by the BBC, and that it only works in the UK.

At this point you might be thinking of blowing the dust off your own Xbox, in readiness for giving the script a try, and wondering where to get the script. It's here. But curtail those hurrahs for just a moment.

[Edit: 9th May 2008.

It seems that, not for the first time, BrokenTV has leapt quite handsomely to a wrong conclusion. The person behind the script left us a comment informing us that the Beeb had been quite honest and open about them plugging the iPlayer mousehole that made the script possible, and with their rights-holders reasoning for having to do so. As it seems they've since removed their comment, it would be improper and rubbish of us to reprint the whole message here.

We're leaving the end of this post below, mainly so everyone can see what this apologetic edit is here for, and partly because we like our picture of Mark Thompson on the phone. And because we're hoping most people will be aware that pretending to get tremendously stroppy about something the we don't really have any strong feelings about is one of the two official BrokenTV jokes. Of course, the other official joke is getting tremendously overexcited about something we don't etc.]

Yeah, nice one Auntie. Invite them over. Wine them. Dine them. Coo over their special profit-free invention that allows a limited number of licence fee payers the ability to watch BBC programmes that they'd forgot to record on their actual television sets. Send them merrily on their way. Then stitch them right up, less than a week later. Bah.

"Mister Gates? The rat is in the cage. I repeat, the rat is in the cage. Agent Thompson out."

[Edit: 9th May 2008.

You win this round, Thompson. By, erm, not actually doing anything wrong or improper in any way. But just you wait. *Shakes gloved fist at camera*]

Wednesday, 7 May 2008


After mentioning the Humax HDR 9300FS yesterday, BrokenTV temporarily rocketed to the top of the Google rankings for it (we're now second). Mainly because at the time of writing, there are only eight hits for it. That's up from four yesterday. This is something somebody really, really ought to document.

We might also start plotting our Google rank position on there as well. That way, we could eventually whore ourselves out to Currys when the damn thing is finally released, probably just in time for Euro 2012.

EPG Week: Day Two

Previously on EPG Week: the sexily graphical-interfaced (at least if you've got a Humax box) Freesat has been launched. We're almost tempted to speculate about possibly getting one (although as the standard HD box has no recording functionality, you can kiss goodbye to watching one programme and recording another unless you've got a Freeview PVR and decent aerial). More importantly, we're using it as an excuse to look at some electronic programme guides. You knows you loves it.


It's Industria's IPTV interface, apparently. Or, to use the PR-speak of those behind it, "a groundbreaking and unprecedented IPTV middleware platform, designed to bridge the gap between the TV user's expectations and the solutions currently available in the IPTV marketplace". Do you know, we were just *bursting* for someone to bridge the gap between our expectations and the solutions currently available in the IPTV marketplace, so this is perfect.

Now, given that the images on their Flickr page aren't flagged with a Creative Commons licence, and that we've just been sarcastic about their press release, here are a couple of 'extracts' from the sample images. The full versions can be viewed here.


Pretty but wrong.


Clearly, these are concept shots that don't hold up to any sort of scrutiny. House, South Park and The Simpsons on BBC One? Not until we're Director General of it. Discovery Civilization broadcasting an hour of Tom & Jerry would be good, too. We wish our telly received a channel called 'Stoo 2'.


It looks really rather gorgeous, doesn't it? Lots of thumbnail screen grabs all over the TV guide and on the VOD screen. Good old Helvetica Neue as the typeface, channel logos on display in a nicely polite fashion, lots of information on screen at once. Well done.


At this point, it does look like it's merely a conceptual EPG. We can't find any evidence of it 'in the wild', at all. Also, trying to view it on on a modestly sized HDTV screen could well lead to a headache. At least they didn't try to be that bit trendier and go for a font weight of '35 Thin', we suppose.

OVERALL: 8/10. Hang on, we're deducting two points because Industria's website refers to the things they do under the heading 'Solutions'. 6/10 it is, then.


Comment Is Almost Free

After a short hiatus after yesterday's flood of spam, the making of comments is now available again. For a short period, comments will be moderated (just in case devilish spam-robots are at work). All being well, moderation will be lifted soon enough.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Shove Your Güvenlik Kamerası

Regrettably, the posting of comments for people who aren't us has been temporarily halted, due to a flurry of spam attacks emanating from Turkey. Hopefully, we can put things back to normal tomorrow.

Interesting facts about Turkey Which Are Unrelated To The Spam Attacks We Are Currently Battling Bravely Against: Part One of a One Part Series

There is a Turkish company called Koç Holding. Pfft.

It's EPG Week!

So, Freesat has launched, which has got us pretty excited. Not because we've now got the option of spending about another £200 to see their EXCLUSIVE carriage of ITV HD - heck no. The only thing that'd be worth watching on HD on ITV would be Champions League football, and there's a grand total of one Champions League match due to be broadcast between now and August anyway. And that'll be shown on Sky Sports HD at the same time anyway. And ITV HD is not even going to be an actual channel, just a red button pop-up option.

No, it's because Freesat has - if the 'leaked' (i.e. mocked up) images we've seen are accurate - quite the prettiest EPG we've seen. Of course, odds are we won't actually get to see a Freesat box in action for quite a while, as pretty much anyone who hasn't got digital telly yet would probably be happy enough with a £15 Freeview box from Aldi. That leaves the people in the parts of the UK not already served by Freeview (and ex-pats living under the satellite footprint) as the main market, but we don't know anyone who ticks those boxes.

So, instead we're going to console ourselves by taking a look at some of the programme guides from around the globe. Is there anything more thrilling than watching an illicitly streamed football match on a Saturday, and spending half-time watching Johnny Uploader flick around his exotic foreign programme menu, trying to hunt down Latvia's equivalent of Jeff Stelling plugging the forthcoming Skonto-Ventspils clash? No, there isn't.

Just to add to the fun for everyone, we're going to try and drag it out for as long as possible, too. Essentially, we're not going to rest until we've driven away the last of our readers. Ah, that sweet self-destructive urge. Come the end of the month, the only IP address troubling our hit counter will be the legal representatives of Idiot Toys, who want a word with us about this being broadly similar to their running joke about foreign batteries.


Erm. Quite uselessly, there aren't any pictures of the Freesat EPG on their website. Or on Flickr. And the Humax website only really includes a picture of the HDR 9300FS box in it's press release page. There's not a single hit for 'HDR 9300FS' in Google Image Search, and only three for it in Google itself. Maybe we'll be the fourth. Way to get your message out there, Freesat.

Luckily for us, Digital Spy have recently featured leaked pictures of it:




Well, it's clearly not exactly as it will be seen on the boxes you can buy from Currys. If it were, it would suggest the twin outcomes of BBC One's schedule taking a notablyTeutonic tone for at least four consecutive days, and more distressingly, the screeching hatebags on The Jeremy Kyle Show being broadcast in 1080i Revolt-O-Vision.


It really is splendidly colourful, with loads of brightly hued little icons denoting things that you'd need to thumb through the encoder's manual to discover the meaning of. Lots of room for detailed programme information on the 'info' screen, with a 70% opacity background allowing you to keep those peepers on your show at the same time.


That text would quite likely cause burst eyes for anyone trying to read it on a standard-definition set. And, in all probability, the real EPG doesn't actually look much like that.



Well, why steal one set of images from Digital Spy when you can just as easily pilfer two? Currently in beta testing for lucky Sky employees, this is due to be rolled out to Sky HD customers (and those with newer models of Sky+ boxes) later in the year. Marking the first genuine revamp of the 1998 original EPG design, this is designed to offer much greater functionality whilst retaining the same look and feel of the familiar system.




We think so. If it were a fake, it'd be a pretty meticulous one. And as we all know, the sort of people likely to try and pull shit like this are conclusively the very worst kind of cack-handed imbeciles.


It certainly looks much nicer, being formatted to make the most of a high-definition widescreen display, but still offering a display viable enough for people with less than huge televisions, or people with poor eyesight, or people who like to sit a long, long way away from their telly. The current channel is now displayed in a little box-out on the TV Guide screen, which is a boon. The on-screen channel bar also gives a lot more information - the current programme is alongside the next two shows (as opposed to one), programme information for other channels is available as you you flick through (it's only possible for the current channel at the moment), and it certainly looks nicer than the current EPG.


It's still a bit 'chunky', though. It's not as colourful as the non-subscription counterpart, with the same old garish blue looking dated by Freesat's nicely toned pastels. But then, Sky TV has never really been about toning things down, making you nice and relaxed, it's all about flinging primary colours in your face until you're punch drunk enough to get enticed by Colchester v Blackpool, or nine hours of live poker. And all that useful stuff won't be of much use to us, as we're cancelling our Sky at the end of the football season, as it's really not worth the £50 a month they're asking for.


Tomorrow: an experimental feature-rich user interface. Ooh.

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