Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Whatever happened to...The BBC

Oo-er, I've got a man's genitals, you know.
I'm depressed this morning. No, it's not the weather, or the economy or even the Team GB self congratulatory wankfest going on in the meeja. It's the news that Mrs Brown's Boys has been voted the best sitcom ever in a Radio Times poll.

Les Dawson suffering from the shishkebabs.
Now, to be fair, I've never watched Mrs Browns Boys. The trailers are bad enough. I don't much go for studio audiences whooping at the sight of a fat middle aged drag act. I went through all that in the Seventies. Remember when the limited TV schedules offered nothing better than references to Mrs Slocombe's pussy, and all that Carry On seaside humour that defined British post war entertainment? I confess I even enjoyed some of it. Les Dawson got the character to a tee, and Lily Savage had the earthy one liners to carry it off.

Mrs Slocombe 
But that was then, and I'd hoped, in the years since Spaced and The Office, that British television sitcoms had finally grown up. Apparently not. The Beeb would rather look back to what was (barely) funny forty years ago than take a risk on breaking new ground. I find this depressing because it's not what the Corporation was created for and we deserve better.

And this was compounded by (another) new reality show.  The programme planning at Broadcasting House these days seems to consist of "Who can we follow around with a film crew for cheap entertainment? Police? Dunnit. Debt collectors? Dunnit. Benefit scroungers? Dunnit. I know, how about sweat shop workers?"

And that's pretty much what Britain's Hardest Workers is. This latest piece of nonsense tries to dignify its poverty porn by calling it a 'sociological experiment'. It's kind of a cross between Undercover Boss and British Bake Off - the elimination element giving the lie to its 'experiment' line right away. Time was when the BBC led the world in fearless expose journalism, lifting the lid on the unscrupulous practices that enable such exploitation of low wage employees. Today we get yet another glib reality show, sniggering at its contestants' inept attempts to do a job they have not been trained for.

Whatever happened to the BBC?

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Guest Post: John McTernan

I love the Labour Party. Whatever anybody says, Labour is my home and I'll be damned if I leave it.

Keir Hardie. What an absolute disgrace that man was. For a start he was a miner, and we all know what a bunch of lefty subversives they were. And as if that wasn't bad enough he was a Scottish miner, the worst, most bolshie kind of Trot on the block. Yet, despite that he did one good thing in his life which was to create the Labour Party. 

Speaking of miners, I'm looking forward to 'St Maggie's Day' being formally introduced by the new Theresa May-led government in recognition of Margaret Thatcher, the woman who saved this country from terminal decline. The way things are going the tories will be in power for the next generation, Thank God, so it's got to be a dead cert.

Why do we even allow unions at all? Back in the good old days subversives were sent in manacles to Botany Bay, and good riddance. Although I can't see the current Australian government being too happy to reinstate that arrangement. Maybe we could launch them into space where they could populate some distant planet and fill it with strikes and picket lines. Reminds me of a nightmare I have often.

Yes, I'm Scottish, but I prefer not to talk about it in polite society. It's a handicap but I've never let it hold me back.  The only thing that bothers me about it are other Scots. Especially the disgusting hordes of flag waving Cybernats. And the SNP, who should all be in jail for their appallingly treacherous disloyalty to the British flag.

And it's all Salmond's fault. That fool's got a lot to answer for. For a kick off politicians have no business holding referenda, they invariably end in tears. Elections are bad enough, God knows. But why a self respecting politician would voluntarily ask the public's opinion on anything is beyond reason. If a politician wants someone's opinion they should ask a special adviser, like Tony used to ask me. The public know fuck all about it and should keep their noses out.

And then having arranged a referendum Salmond starts going around telling people to vote for separation. I can't bring myself to use the word 'independence', the very thought of it makes me physically sick. How could Scotland ever survive outside the safety of the United Kingdom? It's not even funny.

Corbyn, don't get me started. How anyone can be stupid enough to see him as filling the shoes of a political colossus like Tony Blair is beyond me. Just proves how unreliable the public are. I can't watch PMQs any more because of him, reading out those pathetic messages from loser nobodies. He's an embarrassment. Worse than that, he's a danger to himself and others.  And more importantly, to my future as a Spin Doctor.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Don't Worry, Mr Torrance. There's Nothing To It.

Scotland's favourite political commentator and woolly tank top enthusiast, David Torrance, recently caused a bit of froth on Twitter after voicing his astonishing objections to a Scottish Six. I won't bore you with the whole story which you're probably sick of hearing about (if you're in blissful ignorance and dying to know more a quick Google search should help out). But the gist was he didn't think BBC Scotland could match the stellar quality of London's international news coverage.

He might have a point if it weren't for the fact TV News is about the easiest scam to pull off these days. It might look slick and hi-tec with those glass fronted news rooms a hub of feverish activity but the truth is the news hounds are more likely to be trawling social media for bits of gossip. The BBC doesn't actually have any correspondents any more. Any fool can stand outside a building clutching a mike and reading from a cue card.  And who wants to waste time and effort on investigative journalism when you can get away with parroting press releases?

The Scottish Six would only be an hour long programme, a piece of cake in journalistic terms. Remember, this is the same broadcaster who effortlessly fills its rolling news channel, so one hour is hardly likely to be a challenge. (Rolling news is an art in itself,  as seen here.)

So it would seem poor David's getting his wooly tank top in a twist for nothing.

But there is always the possibility that the dopes at BBC Scotland didn't get the memo about how to churn out an hour's worth of BS, so here are some helpful tips to keep them straight:

To make TV news you will need:

1. A brightly lit set with brashly coloured backdrop.

2. Pompous urgent theme music to emphasise something of Earth shattering importance is going on.

3. An anchor, or preferably two; one male one female.  This allows the mandatory banter between them and stops the audience getting bored with the same face all the time. Distraction from the meagre content is paramount, so it helps if the female is hot. That way at least half the audience could doze through the entire show in a sexual fantasy.

4. At least one Correspondent. You can have as many or few of these as you like, but too few might look a bit cheap. They don't need any specialist knowledge beyond the ability to talk intelligently.

Now to the actual news.

In the Old Days a crusty old bloke in a worn jacket read dusty copy from a page of text. This is no use today because it only fills a maximum of ten minutes. Some creative filling is called for.

1 Anchor reads the headline in melodramatic fashion, backed by loud strains of music. This sums up the news item. After the music stops the other anchor repeats it with a bit more detail. In fact, this is all the news they have
But they can't just leave it at that.

2. Cut to the correspondent, apparently 'on the scene'.  He says pretty much the same thing using a few different words so it's not too obvious. For more dramatic effect he/she may interview a 'witness' or someone closely connected to events. The witness doesn't know any more information but can speculate endlessly to fill in time.

3. Back in the studio the Anchor sums it all up again. If there's still time to fill he/she may turn to an Expert for more pointless speculation. It pays to keep a few genuine 'experts' on retainer, such as Professor John Curtice, to be wheeled out on such occasions. But anyone will do and most ennobled former ministers will jump at the chance to spout their half baked opinions on live TV.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Live Coverage From the Oust Corbyn Championships

An improbably slick and over lit studio:

Impossibly Glamorous Anchor: And now sporting news, and we cross to the Oust Corbyn Championships where Gormless Reporter has been getting up to speed on all today's action...

(Cut to wet Gormless Reporter clutching a mike in the rain)

IGA: Hello, Gormless. You look a little damp...

GR: Hello, and welcome to sunny somewhere too dull to remember. Yes, it's been chucking down all day here, but luckily all the action's been indoors.

IGA: A bit more playful banter, sharply curtailed to get on with the report.

GR: (Fake laughter) Yes, indeed.

IGA: Tell us a bit about this year's contender. Is he going to be the one to finally Oust Corbyn?

GR: Well, he's a bit of an outsider, Owen Smith. He seems to have come from nowhere and claims to have not done any training for this competition, although I've heard rumours he's been training on the fly for about a year. He talks a good talk, but it remains to be seen whether he can walk the walk.

IGA: Can he walk?

GR: Yes, indeed he can. On the face of it he has a strong hand and as a former shadow cabinet minister he already has a foot in the door. On the podium he can punch out a lot of media friendly sound bites and fake sincerity, there seems to be no limit to his meaningless platitudes. But I have to say Corbyn seems completely unfazed and even after hours of Smith's droning on looks the more relaxed of the pair.

IGA: And I hear there's been a bit of argument over the rules.

GR: That's right. The sport's governing body had ruled that only they could decide who could decide on who was the winner, but it now seems they can't decide on who can decide, only a High Court judge can decide.

IGA: Sounds like a decisive moment.

GR: It has certainly raised a few eyebrows.

IGA: And what do you predict will be the decision?

GR: Ah, as Mystic Meg once said, I'm not in the prediction business. But it's bound to be one or other of them.

Cut to studio. 

IGA turns to a screen where we see a bespectacled Expert sitting in a studio in front of a backdrop of somewhere interesting.

IGA: Joining us from Somewhere Interesting University is Ron Expert, a professor of This Sort of Stuff. Professor Expert, listening to that report, why do you think it's so hard for these newcomers to Oust Corbyn?

Professor Expert: Good evening. Well, as you know, I chaired a committee last year investigating the ramifications of a post-Corbyn scenario, taking into account all the stakeholder options and worst case outcomes. We met for six months and have only recently published our findings, and we found conclusively that the long term effect of deindustrialization and under investment in the neglected areas of the North, West, parts of the East and most especially in the Midlands would lead eventually to a devastating fiscal shortfall in real terms.

IGA: I see. That's just bollocks, isn't it?

PE: Pretty much, yes. 

IGA: Thank you, Professor Expert. (To camera) So, there we have it. Another exciting day's sport at the Oust Corbyn Championship, but only time will tell. Now over to ZZZZ with the weather....