Wednesday, 30 March 2011

“My Wife Are 17 Years Pregnant” (S4C Viewing Figures)


As part of Operation Get Much Less In Return For All The Taxes You Pay, the coalition government has put in place plans for the budget of Welsh-language channel S4C to be cut by 25% by 2015, 'cos hey, no-one watches it do they? OR DO THEY? The numbers shall TELL ALL.

First up, a quick statsweep.

Going by the figures listed at, 59,600,000 people in the UK speak English. Meanwhile, going by figures supplied by the Welsh Language Board, a total of 611,000 people currently speak and understand the Welsh language. So, are the most successful English-language programmes attracting a higher proportion of the potential viewers than those for Welsh-speakers? We'll take a look at the figures for one week of the last four quarters, taking in shows from BBC One and ITV1, comparing them to S4C.


(Right after “the jump”, if you’re reading this from the front page.)


Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The Top Ten Simpsons Commercials

Ah, The Simpsons, America’s favourite family. Or, as it's known nowadays, The Simpsonsisnotasgoodasitusedtobe. Which of course is true, but it's fair to say that most new episodes at least contain a good several minutes of sniggerworthy content, mainly at the start of episodes where the writing team throw in jokes that only need to be on nodding terms at best with the plot of each episode. Problem is, the rest of each episode is often filled in with pointless celebrity cameos where a famous celebrity gets to appear, mention who they are, disappear again without really having contributed anything, and then get used all over the publicity for that week's episode so that fans of that celebrity watch it.

However, the Simpsons writing team's ability to keep things cracking along in sporadic thirty-second bursts means that the Simpson clan are still suited to one form of media - the world of corporate nadcupping that is television advertising. Join us now as we take a look at the ten best television commercials starring The Simpsons from the last twenty years. That we could find. On YouTube.



Monday, 21 March 2011

TV Presenter Relief, More Like*


(*No, not in a Jamie Theakson sense.)

Okay, first of all, we concur that the most important aspect of it all is that the largest possible amount of money is raised for good causes. That’s why it exists, and it’s tremendously good at that. Okay? Okay.

Right. Why doesn’t Comic Relief have more than naff all actual comedy in it any more, eh? Yes, yes, rose-tinted noses might forget that the early Red Nose Days had a lot of filler in them (you don’t see that Carla Lane one-off with Wendy Craig and Jean Boht waxing wry in a nightclub washroom cropping up on any ‘best of’ compilations, do you?), but no matter how how good or bad the standard, at least it was all identifiable as comedy. Each fresh Red Nose Day seems to be taken up with yer standard TV presenter types getting to announce dance-offs, boy bands and the like, with any actual comedy restricted to pre-filmed sequences.

Here’s a quick look at the presenters for Red Nose Day 2011 (the proper bit, not the pre-recorded highlights show that goes out at a billion o’clock in the morning, which clearly doesn’t count). Actual comedians in bold:

19:00 - 20:05     Michael McIntyre, Claudia Winkleman
20:05 - 22:00     Graham Norton, Davina McCall
21:10 - 22:00     Dermot O'Leary, Davina McCall
22:00 - 23:10     Lenny Henry, Fearne Cotton
23:10 - 00:00     Jonathan Ross, Claudia Winkleman
00:00 - 00:40     Jonathan Ross, Claudia Winkleman, Jimmy Carr
00:40 - 02:15     Alan Carr, Fearne Cotton, Claudia Winkleman, Davina McCall

Noticeably sparse, aren’t they? And the number of female comedians given the chance to host: zero. All a shame, and while you could indeed claim that maximising the amount of cash coming in is paramount, it does seem to be the case that the vast majority of money Comic Relief makes is raised before the show even starts, with the various crisp-wine-T-shirt-toy-based tie-ins having been running for weeks beforehand. So come on, why not at least treat us to an hour hosted by Jo Brand and Sean Lock? Jon Richardson and Sarah Millican? Vic, Bob and Alice Beer (who isn’t a comedian but hey, the hosts of Families At War, reunited as last)? We’d wager the vast majority of Britons won’t get scared off as soon as they see someone who hasn’t appeared in a bikini on the front of FHM, we promise.

Anyway, while all that was going on, we took the opportunity tweet YouTube clips of actual comedy from Red Nose Nights past, each time something boring or harrowing was on telly (hey, we still think they’d make a lot more money if a £10 donation could give you access to a Sky Box Office channel where the appeal films are replaced with classic comedy clips). And, as suggested by Twitter’s Ian Symes, here they are, all embedded in one Firefox-buggering page, just after the ‘Read post’ link…


Sunday, 20 March 2011

The Internet in 1994


In 1896, one of the first Lumière brothers films, “L'Arrivée d'un train à La Ciotat”, was shown to audiences. The minute-long one-shot showed footage of a train arriving at La Ciotat station, and was shot at an angle which made it appear as if the train was about to smash into the left-front side of the theatre. Reports of early screenings suggest that many members of the audience, what with the entire concept of seeing moving pictures of previously recorded events being previously unimaginable, screamed in panic and ran to the back of the room, fearing that the somehow silent and monochrome train would smush their 19th century selves into person pâté.

Whip-pan to 98 years on, and The Web was the Next Big Thing. While not too many people actually had home access to it themselves, it seemed everyone at least knew of it (“The girls of the internet… rowr, I’d like to go on-line with them!” – H. Simpson). Indeed, many of them might have paid good money to spend an hour at an Internet Cafe much like the one we visited in Wrexham around that time, where they could have spent upwards of ten minutes waiting for a heavily compressed GIF of a cartoon steam train to load. What with the entire concept of being ‘jacked in’ to the InfoMotorway having been unimaginable to the undeveloped 1994 brains of these early adopters, many assumed the postage stamp-sized graphic was somehow real, meaning many screamed in panic and ran to the back of the room, and were subsequently banned from the cafe meaning they had to go to the one in Chester instead. It was an exciting time

Join us now as we take a look at issue one of .net magazine, the first (we think) publication dedicated to all things on-line to hit Britain’s newsagents, from December 1994, back when it was still quicker to read things from a magazine than on the web, and the word ‘online’ still had a hyphen in it. At this point, the internet was how popular?


16.5 million people. That’s not in the UK. That’s worldwide. Jeepers, eh?


Sunday, 13 March 2011

You Are A Ref


(Click for full-size.)


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