Friday, July 10, 2009

Are You An ABC1? A C2DE? Or Another Example Of Media-Bollock-Speak Entirely?

Torchwood's Eve Myles has landed a role in a new BBC1 drama. The actress - Gwen Cooper in the popular Doctor Who spin-off - will star alongside Waking The Dead's Trevor Eve in the family drama, Framed. Adapted from Frank Cottrell Boyce's best-selling children's novel, this concerns the storing of the nation's art treasures in an abandoned Welsh slate mine during the Second World War and the friendship which develops between the curator and a local boy. Framed is expected to air later this year. I imagine the BBC will be looking to put it in the Lark Rise to Candleford Sunday family-drama slot. I'm really looking forward to that one, I read the novel on holiday last summer and it's genuinely charming. I mean, 'like Carrie's War charming.'

And, it was yet another night of celebration for all at BBC Wales and Upper Boat (and, indeed, Gallifrey Base - well, most of us anyway) as episode four of Torchwood: Children of Earth scored an impressive 6.2 million viewers. Celebration apart, that is, for the sad death of poor Ianto (Gareth David-Lloyd) who copped it in his beloved Cap'n Jack's arms, the victim of an alien virus. Torchie has been for the last four nights, quite simply, the best bit of sustained drama that the BBC has produced this year. Yes, even better than Occupation. It won't win any BAFTA's because genre-shows seldom do. But it should. It's a story that mixes elements of John Wyndham, The X-Files, House Of Cards-style political intrique and Sophie's Choice, beautifully acted by both the regulars and the extraordinary guest cast (Peter Capaldi, Peter Copley, Nicholas Farrell, Lucy Cohu, Colin McFarlane). It's been water-cooler TV and is, hopefully, a final nail in the coffin for this ridiculous notion that Science Fiction can't be a popular cross-over hit with 'normal viewers.' It can be, if it's GOOD Science Fiction, written with style and elegence (as this has been, by Russell Davies, John Fay and my old mate James Moran) and directed with panache (Euros Lyn at his finest). Whether we'll get a fourth series of Torchwood, I don't know - that rather depends on the BBC. But, if we don't I'd be interested to know what they've got lined-up for next year that's going to be anywhere near as good - or as commerically successful - as this has been.

More good news. This blogger got confirmation earlier this week that a new series of one of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite non-fiction shows, Time Time - their seventeenth - is currently in production over the summer and will be screened, as usual, early in the new year on Channel 4. Excellent. Same format as always, thirteen episodes and a couple of specials, I am led to believe.

BBC1 controller Jay Hunt has admitted Totally Saturday has 'not worked' – even though the corporation refused to confirm or deny whether the Graham Norton-fronted light entertainment show is being axed. Speaking at the BBC1 autumn season launch, yesterday, Hunt insisted 'I was very clear when I took this job that if we really were going to do something about reaching new audiences, then we must take risks,' she said. 'We've had a lot of success [but] along the way we’ve had some disappointments, and Totally Saturday was not as good as it should be. The interesting thing about that show is that the feedback from viewers on Graham has been consistently extremely strong. It hasn't quite worked in terms of huge volume audiences coming to it, but it has delivered a different sort of audience to BBC1. It has been popular with C2DE viewers who we traditionally struggle to bring to the channel, so it was a risk worth taking, even if it didn't quite come off.'
      Okay, can we pause Jay for a second here to ask a very simple qustion; fer Christ's sake, why does everybody in the TV industry talk this annoyingly crass media-bollock-speak? 'C2DE'?! This blogger is not a number - or a letter, for that matter - Jay, yer actual Keith telly Topping is, actually, a person. Just say 'people on council estates,' love, we'll all understand what you mean! I'm also not sure that this blogger personally would be loudly celebrating the acquistion of 'viewers who we traditionally struggle to bring to the channel' as a sub-group. Since, if the rest of what she's saying with regard to Totally Saturday is accurate (and I think it's fair to say it is) then, by and large this would appear to be a small and very undemanding viewership. Is that really one that the BBC wants? Anyway, last weekend saw a flurry of media reports that the show had been axed before the end of the series, after Saturday's episode pulled in just over two million viewers. The show was even outstripped - oh, the shame of it - by an ITV repeat of Stephen Mulhern's Animals Do The Funniest Things. But, the corporation argued that it was 'too early to say whether the series will return.' The show's poor performance comes as a blow to BBC1, which last month announced plans to make Norton one of its major faces alongside Jonathan Ross. Hunt did not mention Norton at all in her introduction to the BBC1 autumn entertainment showreel - which included such prestige productions as the forthcoming Doctor Who special Waters of Mars - and the chatshow host only appeared in it for a few seconds – sparking speculation that he had slipped down the BBC1 priority list. However, Hunt said: 'To be honest lots of things weren't mentioned. Graham appeared in the light entertainment showreel and I'm incredibly proud to have him on the channel. As you know his chat show moves across to BBC1 in the autumn as well and that will be a big moment.'

Right, so getting back to this 'C2DE's nonsense, This blogger has something really quite shocking to report to the BBC. 'People on council estates' do, actually, watch BBC shows. Lots of them. They watch EastEnders and Doctor Who and Strictly Come Dancing. They watch [spooks], Waking The Dead and New Tricks. They watch Have I Got News For You, Mock The Week and Top Gear. They watch My Family and Outnumbered. They've been watching Torchwood and MasterChef avidly all this week, you might've noticed. They watch Panorama, Newsnight and Question Time and some of them even watch Qi and University Challenge and The Culture Show. Difficult as it might be for some people at an executive level within the BBC to grasp there are, actually, people in Great Britain who aren't twenty nine year old media consultants who read the Independent and live in Islington yet still have a frigging brain in their head. The reason why, by and large, these people don't watch a lot of television shows - which both the BBC and other channels produce - is that they are, quite frankly, shite. Produce some shows that aren't shite (like those on the above list, for instance) and audiences will watch them. I mean, in commercial television I can see a justification for chasing specific demographics - it's to do with advertising. It's not pretty and it's not very artistically valid but it is understandable. But the BBC?! I always thought the BBC's unspoken raison d'etre was to get everybody watching the same thing at the same time, no matter where they are, what they do for a living or how the pronounce the word 'grass'? Ironically, this comes just days after ITV have themselves announced that they've decided not to chase 'certain demographics' anymore. ITV ahead of the game? Pass the smelling salts.

Prima ballerina Darcy Bussell is to join Alesha Dixon on the judging panel of Strictly Come Dancing after the BBC finally confirmed yesterday that Arlene Philips is to step down. Jay Hunt confirmed widespread newspaper reports that Philips, who has been a judge since the launch of Strictly in 2004, will be replaced by former contestant Dixon when the new series airs this autumn – but denied allegations of ageism. Hunt said: 'Hand on heart,' (that's always a good start!) 'it's genuinely not about age. We looked at an array of programmes and where they need a refresh.' She noted that on Watchdog, the 'refresh' had seen a thirty-year old presenter replaced with Anne Robinson, who is sixty, and that Philips is moving to The ONE Show – ensuring she still has a prominent position on the channel. And, Keith Telly Topping is certainly that this is exactly how Arlene herself saw it. Television with a smile and a stab. Perhaps it's time to have a reality TV show in which the viewers get to vote on which of the judges they want to keep rather than the acts? Might be more entertaining that way.

ITV could charge viewers to watch Britain's Got Talent clips online as early as next year in a bid to boost revenues. In an interview with BBC 5Live, ITV's chairman Michael Grade said that he hoped to introduce a micro-payments system for clips in the 'medium term' and indicated such a scheme could be in place for the 2010 series. Grade said the plan would work in a similar way to applications on a mobile phone, with viewers charged to watch a clip. 'I think that would work extremely well for us,' he said. Grade expressed confidence that online clips could be commercially lucrative. He said: 'We're all going to crack it, either when the advertising market recovers or [through a combination of] advertising and what we call micro-payments which is like 50p a time, or 25p.' Grade added that the money made from the scheme would help ITV maintain its annual programming budget of £800m-£900m.

Katie Price reportedly burst into tears during the recording of her television interview with Piers Morgan earlier this week. Yeah. He has that sort of effect on a lot of people, chuck. The glamour model sobbed during the dialogue about the break-up of her marriage to Peter Andre, the Mirror alleges. A source said: 'Katie is fed up with the public backlash against her. Unfortunately though, her version of events is rather different to Pete's.' According to the Sun, Price told Morgan: 'It was all down to Pete, he wanted this, not me. He's not as innocent as he's been making out.' Andre's lawyers have reportedly been sent a copy of the interview before it airs this Saturday and are said to be in discussions with ITV regarding what can and can't be included in the broadcast. So there you have it, dear blog reader, you've heard the only thing that anyone could possibly want to watch this tawdry and wretched excuse for a television spectacle for. That's, hopefully, saved you the trouble of watching it. Consider it my public service to you.


Anonymous said...

what a waste of time... you sad person.

Keith Telly Topping said...

Thanks, 'Anonymous'. Always good to hear from a fan.