Thursday, 18 August 2011

Love Football (Celebrity Big Brother), Hate Racism (The Racism Of Richard Desmond’s Newspapers) LIVE BLOG

LIVE BLOG GO! Updates at the bottom, refresh for latest.


Hello and welcome to the beginning of/the entirety of BrokenTV's Celebrity Big Brother 2011 coverage. How so? Well, it's kind of like this: despite everything, we still enjoy Celebrity Big Brother when it's done properly. A couple of genuinely interesting characters in there, or at least someone dislikeable who'll soon be given the chance to show everyone what a deluded buffoon they really are (c.f. that bit where George Galloway claimed he's easily the most well-known of the housemates because "one billion Muslims know who *I* am"), and it's worth investing your time in. Some people you may previously have dismissed as no longer relevant get the chance to prove how entertaining they can still be (the excellently grumpy Dirk Benedict and Leo Sayer), while some you might not have been familiar with use their fifteen minutes to show just how spiffingly game they are (Jermaine Jackson, Mutya Buena). Then there who forget they're on telly and end up showing the nation just how horrible they truly are (Danielle Lloyd, Jo O’Meara, Jade Goody and Jack Tweed), and those who end up being as pointlessly ghastly as you'd suspected the second they stepped onto your screen for the first time ("Donny" "Tourette"). It's a right old tin of Inequality Street and no mistake, and that's why it's always been worth at least the occasional gander.


Wednesday, 17 August 2011

A Proposal For The Opposite Of Whatever A “Stealth Tax” Is (BBC Four Cutbacks)


The Guardian reports that as part of David Cameron’s ongoing game of Kerplunk with all that makes British society worthwhile Our Great Nation’s clamour towards the return of economic prosperity, the BBC may be forced to strip BBC Four of everything costing more than 17p. This is mainly due to the six-year freeze on the licence fee, itself hampered by the World Service now being funded from the that fee, instead of general taxation.

As you might expect, the Twitterati which we’d like to think we’re a part of (but which we very clearly aren’t) got their hashtags in a huge twist over this, and with good reason considering BBC Four is pretty much the last stronghold of Reithian values within the BBC. By which we mean his “giving the people what they don’t yet realise they want” ethos, rather than that whole “I like the cut of that Hitler chap’s jib” thing.

When we were tiny, we’d often gaze in bewildered wonder at the highbrow  documentaries on Egypt, canals or bronze that BrokenTV’s Dad would sit through on a Sunday evening, wondering if we’d ever be clever enough to appreciate such works as The Ascent of Man, Civilisation or Life On Earth. Despite the fact we’re probably not that clever – the monocle we wear to social events really isn’t fooling anyone – the closest British television has to that now is on BBC Four. That’s not to say modern-day BBC Two isn’t without merit, we’re as enthralled by James May building an actual house out of Lego as anyone, but BBC Four is so damn good at times, it’s almost as if it’s cheating. The other channels spend a fortune trying out hundreds of formats in order to find that right blend for the whole family, while BBC Four give an hour to a documentary on the Black Power Salute in the 1968 Mexico Olympics, and we’re captivated. And if it weren’t for BBC Four, we’d have had to Google the Olympic year where Tommie Smith and John Carlos’ made their historic gesture.


From what we’ve read, the most likely casualties from Mark Thompson’s knowledge cull will be BBC Four’s drama and comedy output. We can’t help but feel that would be the beginning of the end for the channel. Without the additional viewers brought to the channel by the likes of The Thick Of It, QI (series A actually premiered on the channel), Fantabulosa!, Filth: The Mary Whitehouse Story, Micro Men, Hattie, Lennon Naked, Newswipe, Screenwipe, On Expenses, Canoe Man, Thatcher: The Long Road To Finchley, The Road to Coronation Street or the forthcoming Holy Flying Circus, would other programmes on the channel have been brought to the attention of nearly as many viewers? And with the remaining programmes less likely to attract the same viewing figures they currently achieve, how long before the channel is dismissed as an irrelevance by the BBC-hating press, and calls begin for it to be closed completely?

Programmes such as The Curse of Steptoe attracted around 1.6 million viewers, a figure likely to be much higher than that attracted by the forthcoming series of Celebrity Big Brother on Channel 5 – surely that’s something to be protected at all costs? Yes, some of the bigger shows could supposedly debut on BBC Two, but in the modern-day hypercompetitive TV market there’s no room for risk. Could the 21st century model BBC Two really have taken a chance on The Thick Of It being given three pilot episodes? On broadcasting the latest version of The Quatermass Experiment, the first live made-for-television drama to be shown on the BBC in twenty years? On giving Charlie Brooker thirty minutes a week to tear the television industry a new SCART socket? Or even to try out programming that didn’t quite work, such as Robert Newman’s long-awaited return to TV comedy, with The History Of The World Backwards?

We’ve long held the (possibly misguided) notion that BBC Four is the very last outpost of British television where the right people can happily be given a budget and a timeslot, and be told “go off and make something” without being followed by a swarm of middle-managers who prod the talent with sticks while hissing “can we skew younger?”, “can we get Mickey Flanagan in here somewhere, I owe his agent a favour”, or “this play about Shakespeare is all very worthy, but I don’t like Shakespeare. Can it all be about him being shit?” It’s the BBC of the Radiophonic Workshop, of a thirteen-part series being made because of something Barry Took said in the BBC bar, of half-hour sitcoms lasting for thirty-four minutes because that’s how long it needs to be – or as close to that bygone Beeb as it can be in the era of credit-squeezing and logo usage guideline documents.


In short, if BBC Four were a person, it’d be Alessandro Del Piero taking part in an under-12s football match, and it’s time for him to have his bootlaces tied together to give everyone else a chance.

So, what are the alternatives to clipping BBC Four’s wings? People on Twitter seem to have come up with a few ideas, though they don’t really hold up to much scrutiny.


A popular opinion, but one we’d have to disagree with. Yes, it’s full of shows called JAMES CORDEN’S WELL GOOD FUCK OFF I’M GINGER AND WAHEY LADS SHAGGING EH SHOW or whatever, and despite making huge amounts of original content most people only watch EastEnders repeats and Family Guy, but there is an audience for it.

One of the reasons we stopped liking Harry Hill quite as much is down to a recent interview on Five Live, he was asked why TV Burp had stopped poking fun at BBC Three’s Freaky Eaters. His reply was along the lines of “it’s awful, that’s why. And I’m paying for it!” Well, sorry to break this to you Harry. The people who watch BBC Three pay their licence fee, too. They’re paying for the things they like, you’re paying for the things you like. Oddly, considering “young people are always moaning, they don’t know how lucky they are!”, we never really hear fans of Spendaholics or Being Human complaining about their licence fee funding coverage of The Chelsea Flower Show or Countryfile, but whenever the Beeb send a team off to Glasto to capture around sixty hours of entertainment for less than the price of two hours drama, it’s as if the ghost of Sir Hugh Greene is personally sneaking into the houses of Daily Mail readers and rifling through their handbags.



Much as we dislike Radio One’s self-satisfied money vacuum, millions of people do like him. And his contract is reportedly due to end soon, anyway. Hey, if you wanted Chris Moyles off the radio, you should have watched the eighteen different attempts to make him a TV star in numbers larger than piss-all. By the time he realised he wasn’t suited to it, Nick Grimshaw or someone would be sitting in his DJ chair.


See this?


That’s you that is, you absolute flapping gibbons. As we’ve said before, for the first time in history you CAN legally watch telly without a TV licence. Buy a plasma or LCD screen that doesn’t have a digital tuner built-in. Connect a PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 or computer to it, and use online services to watch catch-up content from a variety of UK television providers* on it. Hey presto, you don’t own a device capable of receiving a ‘live’ television signal, so you don’t need a TV licence. AND what’s more, the includes anything the BBC have put on iPlayer – if you’re not watching it go out live, you don’t have to pay a penny, and it’s all legal. Us licence fee payers are the ones paying for your entertainment now. And guess what – we don’t resent you for it. Not a bit. Enjoy. Be entertained. We’re not selfish, entitled dicks, you see.

(*Oh, unless you’re including Sky in that. You’ll have to pay BSkyB a fucking fortune to watch their catch-up service online. But hey, enjoy those repeats of To The Manor Born on UK Gold.)


Sigh. It might surprise some people to learn that the BBC isn’t the only state-funded broadcaster in the world. Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Macedonia, Malta, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Israel, Japan, Korea, Pakistan, Ghana, Mauritius, Namibia, South Africa and Brazil ALL have broadcasters funded by licence fees. Do you hear many people saying “say what you like about Slovenia, their nature documentaries are the best in the world”? NO.

Meanwhile, in Australia, the Flemish region of Belgium, Cyprus, Gibraltar, Hungary, India, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal and Singapore state-funded broadcasters are paid for from general taxation. Too poor to own a telly in India? Tough, you’re still paying for the programmes.



Well, the opposite of what the “waaaah stealth tax! Stealth tax!” whingers who probably cried that bit more as a baby because mummy’s breast milk didn’t taste like Twining's tea want. In what is supposed to be a democracy, and where people complain that you’re not allowed to have the choice of paying the television licence fee or not, we’re saying: we should have the choice to pay more for our licence fee if we want to. We’re told that the licence fee has been frozen for six years to ‘help’ us all in this tough economic climate. Fine, but why shouldn’t we have the option of paying more to help keep the BBC the way we like it?

The licence fee as it stands is £145.50 per household per year, with that price frozen solid until 2016. Why not just make that the minimum mandatory licence fee? Watch a lot of BBC shows? Love BBC Radio? Is the BBC website your homepage? Well, why not decide to pay the corporation a total of £165.50 per year? You won’t get anything special for that extra donation. You won’t be more likely to have your flailing arm picked out of the audience on Question Time to grill the Shadow Energy Secretary. You won’t be more likely to have your missive read out on Points Of View. You won’t get to guest host Have I Got News For You. You’ll be doing it because you believe in rewarding someone for the good job they do. After all, what could be more British than that? Sure, there’ll be stuff put out there in the name of the BBC that you personally don’t like, hundreds upon hundreds of hours of it, but that’s because the BBC is for everyone, and everyone deserves the best BBC they can get.

Don’t want to pay an extra penny? Like to mutter into your cocoa about how “they’ll” probably replace Songs Of Praise with “Lee Nelson’s Well God Show” the second your back is turned? Well, then don’t. Pay your minimum, carry on kidding yourself that having a strong BBC doesn’t help other broadcasters do the good things they do – would ITV still keep letting John Pilger make shows such as the powerful The War You Don’t See if they weren’t playing catch-up with the Beeb, for instance?

It needn’t stop there. How about the licence fee reminder letters including a form that allows you to allocate your extra contribution to the areas you’d most like to see receive it?


We’ll pay more than our fair share if and where we can, and maybe, just maybe, we’ll keep BBC Four, and the rest of the BBC, every bit as good as it is now.


Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The 2011 World Cup of TV Comedy: GRAND DRAW


We’ve been a bit quiet lately, mainly due to a prolonged period of our idea muscles being strained. But we’ve come up with an exciting and NEW idea, one that we’re sure will run and run. And idea that should easily last for around thirty updates, and which we’ll never, ever get bored of. And hey, hopefully you won’t too. Announcing:


What’s that? We kind of spoiled the big reveal by putting that in the title of this update? Ah. And the big, lazy Photoshopped image just above this text? Oh.


We’ve taken a list of fifty classic (and future classic) television comedy shows from around the world. Not necessarily the fifty greatest comedy series ever, programmes that we’re able to lay our hands on without too much effort have been favoured. Of those fifty, thirty-two ‘qualify’ for the finals. From that point on, it’s a straight knockout. One episode of “Show A” is chosen at random, and pitted against a random episode of “Show B”. We watch each episode, award a score out of five to that episode depending on how much we enjoyed it. The programme with the higher score goes through to the next round.

Oh, and we’ll try to relay what’s happening in each episode on a minute by minute basis, as if it’s a football match.


Scripted television comedy. Not just sitcom, you’ll also find sketch shows, panel shows and animated shows in the list. In order to accurately reflect the global aspect of the medium of laughter, a total of 8 nations will take part: the USA, England, Scotland, Wales, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Japan are all there. And France, if you count the Monsieur Aubergine sketches from Alexei Sayle’s Stuff. Sadly, the entire island of Ireland was banned from taking part, because we remembered that Mrs Brown’s Boys exists. Especially harsh on the Republic admittedly, but you can’t be too careful.


And so via satellite, to Zurich where the live draw is finally about to take place. The assembled audience have had to sit through three hours of a European man talking about the importance of comedic fair play (“…Rule 473(b): simply having someone say ‘fuck’ is not an acceptable punchline…”) and a stilted performance from a soft rock band who are equally inoffensive and pointless in any language.

The fifty shows have been trimmed to thirty-two after a lengthy series of heated discussions that saw the entire list fed into’s list generator, and the bottom 18 shows left to try again in 2015. Pretty harsh on shows like Arrested Development, Mr Show, World of Pub, Smith & Jones or This Is David Lander (aww), but does leave some of the more interesting options on the list. This means the following matches are lined up for round one:


Stephen Fry in This Is David Lander. Sadly, not making the cut.


So, first up we’ve got wonderfully demented MTV Japan animation Usavich against Paul Merton’s finest series of half-hours. Which episodes will be chosen to do battle? How will we get away with breaking our self-enforced rules in the first match, considering each episode of Usavich is only actually ninety seconds long? Will it be the Paul Merton episode that has the dolphin sheriff in it? LET BATTLE COMMENCE.

Tomorrow, that is. See you then!


Thursday, 11 August 2011

Another Nice Internet Thing To Look At

It’s John Cleese on a 1971 episode of Joker’s Wild And it is splendid.

Remember, this was what daytime television was like in the early 1970s. DAYTIME BLOODY TELEVISION. We really liked both Land Girls and The Indian Doctor, but seriously, bloody hell.

AND it was on ITV.


Wednesday, 10 August 2011

RIOTING SPECIAL: Six Nice Things On The Internet To Look At Instead

So: the riots. Or the lootings. Or a few thousand morons who think they live in a 50 Cent video acting like scumbags. The rolling news coverage has been a mixed bag, with dramatic footage (often lifted from YouTube) combined with the usual parade of self-proclaimed 'experts' telling us how it's all the fault of that Twitter/the rap music that they have nowadays/the cuts/lack of national service/the lack of stringing up bad people/benefits/Facebook/consumer culture/clothing with hoods rather than a sizeable minority of Britain's youth being a bunch of selfish scumbags going for the whole "dilution of responsibility" thing.

But: all that’s pretty much the kind of thing being covered elsewhere, most effectively on the brilliant Sangat TV (Sky 847, Freesat tune to 9/14/210, Astra 1A 5.1E, Frequency 12523 Sr 27500 Vertical (V)), who broadcast rolling coverage of reporter Upinder Randhawa and his cameraman driving around the streets of Birmingham, Wolverhampton and West Bromwich, talking to members of the community while the aftermath of the riot burned away behind them.


So instead, here’s six NICE things that are NICE.

1. Astonishing Examples of Long Exposure Photography (Buzzfeed)


Because the world can be a beautiful place when you’re not setting fire to bits of it.

2. A Guy on US Military Duty in the Middle East Captures His Friend’s Reaction On Announcing He’s Gay

Ooh, cripes. If perceived stereotypes are to be believed this is going to be awkward. He’ll probably jump out of the vehicle and start bellowing or somethi… no, quite the contrary. In a further blow to received opinion, the video currently has 779 “likes” and only 21 “dislikes”. On a YouTube video. AND of the comments we looked at, the only negative comment was someone complaining about the audio quality on the video.

3. The New M83 Single

One of the best noises to find a way into our heads this year, the first track to be released from the French electro maestros’ forthcoming album “Hurry Up We’re Dreaming”. Download the MP3 for free from the band’s website: Your ears will thank you.

4. The Unbroadcast Pilot Episode of Vic Reeves Big Night Out

You just TRY and not to find this exciting. If you’re incapable of enjoying this, you’re an AFFRONT TO HUMANITY. Markedly different to the finished version (not least with the completely different title sequence, a young(er) Charlie Higson as announcer instead of Lord Peter Allen, and SCENES SHOT OUTSIDE), it’s quite fascinating to see what we presume is a show that bit closer to the original stage version of Big Night Out that the series that clattered into Britain’s living rooms in 1990.

Yes, the sound quality is awful and lots of the jokes were re-used in the series proper, but stick with it. (Reader’s voice: “Man With A Stick with it?”) No.

5. A Sketch From Monty Python’s Flying Circus That Never Gets Shown On TV

“There now follows a party political broadcast on behalf of the Conservative and Unionist Party.”

Kicking off with a specially recorded PBS pledge drive promo featuring Graham Chapman and Terry Jones is interesting enough, but this clip goes on to feature a sketch that seems to have been missing from all UK copies of Flying Circus. Quite why that is, we’re not sure, but as it involves John Cleese doing a funny dance with a serious expression on his face, followed by a Gilliam animation of Ted Heath and Harold Wilson in a ballet studio, we’re glad to see it now.

Factmonsters SOTCAA have more information on the cut sketch, along with details of a a further bit of caption-based whimsy that should be in place just before it. Always worth reading.

6. A Cat Eating Pancakes

Just because.


Monday, 1 August 2011

George Costanza: The Movie

George Costanza becomes a hardened criminal, forever being hauled off to chokey by the cops. Until a spell in prison sees him vow to make a change, and inspired by his father’s health problems he becomes a champion of good causes. A heartwarming tale of redemption.

Ah, if only eh? Here’s a splendidly constructed trailer made from episodes of Seinfeld.


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