Saturday, October 02, 2010

Week Forty One: I Stormed Out Of The Culture Bunker

Yer Keith Telly Topping was just about on the point of giving up entirely on the Friday night, thirty minute, editions of Qi dear blog reader and concentrating, instead, on the extended Qi: XL on Saturdays. Until this very week. Yesterday's effortlessly amusing episode on the subject of Hoaxes - with Sean Lock and Danny Baker on particularly fine form - reminds us that there is good stuff in little bundles every now and then. Stephen Fry's summation of the illogicality of the hoaxed Moon Landings theory (and Alan's story about being told off by dear old Patrick Moore for even thinking about believing such guff), plus all the stuff on crop circles and Davey Mitchell's bug-eyed rant about what a tosser Nostradamus was were further treats. I'm very much looking forward to the extended version tonight, if only to see what they cut out.

This week's episode of CSI - Pool Shark - was something of a game of two halves, Brian. The main plot was a pretty clever and witty exposé on Vegas inter-hotel rivalry shenanigans. The episode came complete with just about every 'shark' pun in Christendom and a fine guest turn by Elliott Gould who was playing, essentially, the same character that he did in Ocean's 11. However, the episode's other subplot, about Wendy's departure, felt tacked-on and was a very poor way for the viewers to say goodbye to Liz Vassey after the best part of six years of contributions to the show. And, the sequence in which she tells Hodges that she is leaving was like watching a puppy being kicked to death!

Highlight of last night's opening episode of Strictly was, undoubtedly, Craig Revel Horwood telling balding, unfunny, Tory supporting former TV magician Paul Daniels 'The best part of that routine was the empty box I'm afraid. You were lip-syncing for your life!' and giving him an amusingly severe score of two. Craig, actually, had an excellent night all round, bitchily criticising Patsy Kensit for sticking her bottom out too far but also telling a, clearly stunned, Matt Baker, 'You, sir, are a one to watch!' Mind you, Len was also at it in place, noting, after Felicity Kendall had cha-cha'd her way through a substandard routine 'There's more tension in this room than there was in my nan's knicker elastic!' Bring on Ann Widdecombe in a tutu, I say. The first episode achieved an overnight audience of a smidgen over nine million viewers on BBC, the show's best ever opening night. (This was also very good news for Qi, sandwiched between EastEnders and Strictly, which saw its regular four million audience pushed up closer to five million.)

Sky has confirmed that it will launch a Sky Atlantic channel to carry its exclusive HBO shows, as well as the new series of Mad Men which it has, seemingly, poached from the BBC as speculated in yesterday's blog. Launching in early 2011, Sky Atlantic and Sky Atlantic HD will provide an exclusive home to all of HBO's new series, including the UK premiere of Martin Scorsese's Boardwalk Empire in February. The channel will also give premieres to HBO's Mildred Pierce in March, as well as Game Of Thrones and Treme in April. In a separate deal with Lionsgate Television, Sky has also secured broadcast rights to acclaimed drama Mad Men from next year after - hugely - outbidding the BBC. The fourth series of Mad Men is currently being broadcast on BBC4, but series five of the drama, which depicts the fictional exploits of advertising executives in New York in the early 1960s, will be broadcast exclusively on Sky Atlantic. The channel, which will be made available as part of Sky's Variety Pack, will also air a raft of UK shows, with further details to be announced shortly. 'Sky Atlantic HD will be an extraordinary TV channel. It will have compulsive television that pushes creative boundaries and tells great stories,' said Sophie Turner Laing, Sky's managing director of entertainment, news and broadcast operations. 'The addition of Sky Atlantic completes a fantastic portfolio of entertainment channels including Sky1 HD, Sky Arts, Living and Sky Movies. Together, our channels will bring customers high-quality programming that is worth paying for.' Coinciding with the launch of Sky Atlantic, Sky1 controller Stuart Murphy will expand his role to become director of programmes for Sky1, Sky2 and Sky3 and Sky Atlantic HD. Also this week, Sky officially launched its Sky 3D channel to residential customers, with the opening weekend featuring Ryder Cup coverage.

Hatchet-faced bag of sourness, bitter and rancid old crone Arlene Phillips has claimed that her 'departure' from Strictly - or, in other words, when she got sacked - turned out to be 'a positive career move.' What a pity she didn't mention that earlier to save tens of thousands of sad people from whinging to the BBC and the newspapers about it. Over and over again. The former judge was, amusingly, unceremoniously booted off the programme last year and replaced on the panel by much younger, and much fitter, pop star Alesha Dixon. Speaking to the Sun about cutting her links with the talent show, Phillips said: 'It was fate. There was a big reason why it happened. So much happiness in my life has come about because of leaving. It has been like a second launch pad. I am enjoying doing fresh new things. It is a new me. I feel really invigorated by it.' Phillips is currently working on a new musical version of Flashdance and is preparing for a second series of So You Think You Can Dance.

Friday's episode of ITV's wretched early morning show Daybreak welcomed back - if that's the right word to use - Adrian and the Orange Lass following a two day, of you will, break. Oh, stop it Keith Telly Topping, sometimes you're so sharp you'll cut yerself. Their return coincided with the show's worst ratings to date, a mere six hundred and seventy thousand average as viewers, seemingly, continue to desert ITV's overpaid pair in droves. On the other side, meanwhile, BBC's Breakfast climbed above the one and a half million mark. The fifteen minute audience breakdowns are even more revealing. Daybreak's peak was just over a million viewers between 8:30 and 9am whilst Breakfast's topped two million during the same period. Ah well, never mind guys. Look at it this way, you're now just stuck in three or four years contracts (sources vary), very well paid admittedly, but in a show that appears to be going nowhere fast. I'll bet you wake up every day (at three in the morning) and bless the decision you made to jump ship. Or, maybe not?

Sarah Jane Interferes actress Elisabeth Sladen has praised Matt Smith's guest performance on the series. In a BBC press release, she claimed that the Doctor Who star was 'an inclusive actor. He'd just come back from Los Angeles and he was absolutely jet-lagged,' she revealed. 'They gave him this big scene to start with. He walked into this unfamiliar set-up and no matter who you are, I think you feel that.' Sladen promised that fans will enjoy Smith's appearance in the two-part Death of the Doctor. 'He just had a week and he was really, really good,' she said. 'I think people will love it.' Sladen has also admitted that she cannot explain why Sarah Jane Smith is so popular with fans. And, neither can yer Keith Telly Topping to be fair, dear blog reader. Cos he can't stand the character, personally. Never could. Not in 1975 and certainly not in 2010.

And, on that bombshell, here's next week's Top Telly Tips:

Friday 8 October
Tonight's Qi - 8:30 BBC1 - is all about humans, which affects us all, I guess. Joining Stephen and Alan tonight for the TV show which continues to be the best example of Lord Reith's three pillars of the BBC are Jo Brand, Jack Dee and Jimmy Carr. Who will, hopefully, educate, inform and entertain us.

In The Song of Lunch - 9:00 BBC2 - Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson, neither of whom have had too many decent movie roles of late - return to television to star in a dramatisation of Christopher Reid's narrative poem. This concerns a book editor who meets his former lover in a Soho restaurant fifteen years after their break-up. Following a failed writing career and settling for a mundane job, he is resentful about her glamorous life in Paris, and as the wine begins to flow nostalgia turns to recriminations and bitterness. The film sees Rickman and Thompson working together again – they both starred in Sense And Sensibility and Alan directed Emma in A Winter Guest.

Consummating TV's great unrequited relationships can often be the kiss of death for a TV show. Frasier's Daphne and Niles were never as much fun once they shacked up, while Moonlighting's Maddie and David completely lost their fizz when they became more than just colleagues. So what are we to make of Greg House and Lisa Cuddy, former sparring partners, becoming tentative lovers in House - 9:00 on Sky1? Can Hugh Laurie still deliver the comedy gold now that his misanthropic character is content? Well, as content as Greg House will ever get, one supposes? The opening episode to the seventh series - Now What? - finds the pair pulling a mutual sickie and exploring their feelings for each other, which means that we get forty three minutes of infatuation, discussions about the work-life balance and concerns about going public. The results are inconclusive (and, the next episode is, actually far better at presenting the changing dynamic between the two) but, thankfully the tone is kept relatively light thanks to the sight of Wilson (the great Robert Sean Leonard) getting himself stuck in a window and a subplot involving a neurosurgeon high on his medication. Whether they can pull off an entire season of House being contented remains to be seen.

Saturday 9 October
BAFTA-winning comedian Harry Hill returns for a new series his irreverent Harry Hill's TV Burp - 7:10 ITV. As ever, Harry reviews the week's TV highlights, subjecting the latest soaps, reality shows, documentaries and other assorted oddities to his unique brand of scrutiny. And, as usual, they'll be a big FIGHT! Which is always fun.

Timewatch recalls the forgotten story of the events in January 1915. That was when a Zeppelin airship raid on the Norfolk town of Great Yarmouth killed Sam Smith, the first British civilian to die as a result of aerial bombing in The First Blitz - 9:15 BBC2. The following three years saw a sustained terror campaign by Germany which would claim hundreds of lives and whose psychological effect was every bit as harrowing as the - much more famous - Second World War's Blitz to the people of Britain. It's a fascinating and now almost entirely forgotten story and one that should keep, perhaps, four people away from The X Factor over on ITV. Which is a tragedy, frankly. Yer Keith Telly Topping, however, reckons that all of his dear blog readers should check this out - particularly after the terrible hardships I suffered finding a pictorial illustration of a Zeppelin. This involved typing the word into Google Image Search and then having to wade through about eight pages of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page's ugly mugs. Seriously, it was a chore!

Sunday 10 October
Single Father - 9:00 BBC1 - is a new, much-trailed and highly-anticipated series. Photographer Dave struggles to raise his four children alone following the death of his wife in a traffic collision. Matters become more complicated when he finds himself growing closer to her best friend, and his eldest daughter turns her back on him in a bid to find her real father. This romantic drama, stars national heartthrob David Tennant in his first major role since leaving Doctor Who and former Corrie star Suranne Jones who was so good in last year's ITV drama Unforgiven.

It had some strong competition, however. thorne: sleepyhead - 9:00 Sky1 - crime drama based on the novel by Mark Billingham, starring David Morrissey, who of course acted opposite Tennant in Blackpool and Doctor Who. DI Tom Thorne investigates when three women are discovered to have been murdered after the killer had tried to make it appear as though they had suffered strokes, but when a fourth victim is found, the detective realises it is the criminal's intention to leave the women 'locked-in', unable to communicate or move. I'm not really familiar with the novels on which these stories is based - Sky have commissioned three further Thorne stories - but a friend who is tells me that they're competent standard crime drama fair enlivened by a very good central character and some clever plot twists. Which, given the presence of one of Britain's greatest actors of his generation is reassuring. (Morrissey remains, for many viewers, forever the duplicitous Stephen Collins, sparring with John Simm in State of Play.) It's a really tricky one this - and almost-Harry Hill like conundrum; which is best, Tenna or Mozza? Don't fight, guys, that's yer Keith Telly Topping's Top TV Tip for today. Just record one and watch the other. Simple.

In Time Team - 5:25 Channel 4 - Tony Robinson and his fearless band of archaeologists travel to Welsh Wales - there's lovely isn't it? - where they are tasked with investigating Tregruk. This was formerly one of Britain's biggest castles. After setting out to examine the interior to find out how the structure fitted into a network of fortresses built by English barons seven hundred years ago, the team members dig deeper into the trenches - and realise they have uncovered a medieval Xanadu. Metaphorically, of course, and nothing whatsoever to do with the songs by Olivia Newton John and Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich. At least, we presume not. Because, if it is, that would be headline news.

Monday 11 October
There was no reason for the crime thriller Whitechapel - 9:00 ITV - to get a sequel, beyond the obvious fact it was ITV's best-performing non-soap drama of 2009 and one that received both good reviews and extraordinarily strong ratings. Considering that it was about a serial-killer copying the exploits of Jack The Ripper in the titular London district, there didn't seem to be much chance of a second run. ITV, however, weren't prepared to let Whitechapel's success go unexploited, so the format is back with another three-part story, this time focusing on copycat murders based on the infamous EastEnders the Kray Twins, who operated in the area during in the 1960s. Chandler (Rupert Penry-Jones) and the team investigate another set of apparent copycat killings, with mad local historian Buchan (Steve Pemberton) claiming that the murders mirror those committed by good old mad-as-toast Ronnie and Reggie in their heyday of tool-stiffening armed-violence. The case stirs up uneasy feelings for Miles (one of yer Keith Telly Topping's favourite actors, Phil Davis), who refuses to believe Buchan's theory. Let's hope it's as good as the first three-parter.

Again, it's all happening at 9:00 night. On BBC1 in [spooks] when three highly skilled Chinese agents arrive in London, the team sets out to discover the purpose of their visit. Ruth (Nicola Walker) goes undercover in a major research corporation, where she learns a particular scientist is the ultimate prize. Beth (Sophia Myles,) meanwhile, activates an asset to be Section D's mole on the inside of a security firm. However, his trustworthiness is soon called into question. Another particular favourite actor of this blogger, Colin Salmon, guest stars.

And, still the hits keep coming. A History of Horror with Mark Gatiss - 9:00 BBC4 - sees The League of Gentlemen star and Doctor Who and Sherlock author celebrates his love of horror films, beginning with those produced during the golden age of Hollywood. Mark finds out how the succession of classic pictures that were made from the 1920s to 1940s defined the genre, and explores the threat posed by the rise of science fiction movies in the post-war atomic era. He begins his exploration of the genre by looking at the golden age of Hollywood horror and examines some iconic pictures directed by Englishman James Whale (Frankenstein, The Old Dark House and Bride Of Frankenstein), who loaned his movies a camp sensibility, and populated them with a largely British ex-pat cast. The second episode, next week, concentrates on the complete reinterpretation of the genre by the British company, Hammer. In the 1958 remake of Dracula, the original vampire with heavy face and foul breath was gone and along came the Byronic Count in the shape of Christopher Lee, a bloodsucker of almost gentlemanly proportions. It was at this time that horror films turned from black and white to colour and began to feature an element of sex, tapping into an increasingly permissive society. Really looking forward to this one. If you're watching Whitechapel and recording [spooks] at the same time, remember, this one will be repeated a few times.

Modern historians have, in recent years, tried to re-educate public perception about the Vikings. They will tell you about Viking culture - their ballads and epic sagas - and their technological achievements, plus their extraordinary voyages of discovery, reaching American five hundred years before Columbus, Cabot and Vespucci. That's all as may be, but, I'll tell you what - they still weren't a bunch of chaps you'd like to meet down a dark alley after throwing-out time. Anyway, The Real Vikings: A Time Team Special - 8:00 Channel 4 - sees Tony Robinson, Mick Aston and Phil Harding following archeological digs around the country as they provide valuable insights into Britain's own Viking past. The most important finds are, of course, in York, Yorvik when the Vikings were there, where the thousand-year-old remains of streets, houses and a trading centre are uncovered. With all this new research, the team are able to paint a more complex picture of the Vikings as skilful and enterprising people. Though still one who liked a bit of blood-soaked carnage, rape and pillage if the mood took them.

Tuesday 12 October
Having safely negotiated what was seemingly their toughest assignment of their group - taking three points from Switzerland in Basle last month - a refreshingly rejuvenated England can look forward to tonight's encounter with Montenegro with something approaching confidence in Live International Football - 7:30 ITV. Seven goals from two games, impressive performances from the likes of Theo Walcott and Adam Johnson, and that rare thing - a goal from Wayne Rooney - have begun the healing process for England fans looking to getting rid of the memories of that dismal World Cup in South Africa. Tonight's match will be the first time that teams from these two nations have met at either club or international level, and with Montenegro having matched England by taking maximum points from their opening two games, the home team will have added incentive to justify their Group G favourites tag as they pursue a third consecutive win. Will the Toon's Andy Carroll make it into the squad? Joining host Adrian Chiles in the studio are TV's crappest summerisers Gareth Southgate and Andy Townsend. Commentary comes from Peter Drury.

In tonight's MasterChef: The Professionals - 8:00 BBC2 - another eight competitors are whittled down to six as they prepare scallops with buerre blanc and a souffle with caramel sauce. I love scallops, me. Having survived Monica's glacial stares - or, if they're female, being reduced to tears - and Gregg Wallace looking, frankly, terrified next to her, the remaining hopefuls are then challenged to re-create recipes for sesame crisp marinated grapes and classic blanquette de volaille, demonstrated by lovely Michel Roux Junior. The best two chefs from the final rounds will make it through to the quarter-final.

It's the last in the current series of Holby City - 8:00 BBC1. Linden breaks up with Faye (Patsy Kensit, seen here giving medical attention to Jonathan Ross ... at least, that was their story). But, when she is threatened by a drug addict, his chivalrous attitude ends up placing him in grave danger. Meanwhile, Michael jeopardises his career by lashing out at Ric for ruining the Holbycare pitch, and Frieda is in a good mood when Oliver asks her out for drinks, little realising she has misread his friendly gesture. The show will return later in the year.

Last week, yer Keith Telly Topping took the piss, mightily, out of Wedding House - 8:00 Channel 4. Having now seen the first episode, and the wretched clowns involved in this fiasco, I feel I was far too lenient on it last time around so I'm back for another go. The bespoke matrimonial events created by the experts this week are a modern civil ceremony with a Tudor twist (so, not that modern, then?), a bus ride service with a magical difference and Yvonne and Alan renewing their vows in a risqué dungeon themed ceremony involving bondage. Oooo. Legal and binding. Tonight's show also features a bride who simply won't play by the rules. The Wedding House team asked couples to send a wish-list in advance and then leave every last detail to the professionals. Cheryl, however, has other ideas. From the moment this red-headed beauty arrives at the Wedding House to marry her fiancé Roger, it's clear that it's her way, or no way. Take my advice, Roge, make it 'no way.' Otherwise, you've got potentially another forty or fifty years of that sort of attitude to look forward to.

Wednesday 13 October
On a south Leeds estate in the heart of rugby league country, a group of nine boys and their coach Ian Rodley are preparing for competition. But rather than facing Bradford Northern or Hull Kingston Rovers, the DAZL Diamonds - Britain's leading all-boys cheerleading team - are fluffing up their pompoms ahead of a trip south to the National Championships in Coventry in Wonderland: Boy Cheerleaders - 9:00 BBC2. Can they become the first boys' team to lift the trophy?

In Food: What Goes in Your Basket? - 8:00 Channel 4 - Ravinder Bhogal investigates fish imports from Zimbabwe and questions whether the trade helps the people or supports the corrupt regime. Or both. It's one of those questions that raises its head from time to time with regard to exports in which, to be honest, there are probably no right answers. Jay Rayner, currently cropping up on TV more often than the news via contributions to MasterChef and The ONE Show, reveals how animal welfare affects food prices, Harry Wallop examines the real cost of bread and the Rotting Room examines takeaway meals. Plus, a group of food experts try some affordable sandwich fillings.

Explosions: How We Shook the World - 8:00 BBC4 - sees the Bang Goes the Theory presenter and engineer Jem Stansfield investigating the history of explosives. He re-creates an ancient Chinese alchemy accident, splits an atom in a home-built device, reveals the uses of gunpowder in mining, and visits a modern high-explosives factory.

Thursday 14 October
In the opening episode of the new series of Have I Got News For You - 9:00 BBC1 - the satirical quiz returns with Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch making his debut as the host. Benny will be overseeing, or at least, attempting to oversee, the regular team captains - Ian Hislop and Paul Merton and their guests.

Martin Clunes returns as the bored sales executive in this update of Leonard Rossiter's classic 1970s sitcom in Reggie Perrin - 9:30 BBC1. Opinion was hugely devided on the artistic and critical mertis of the fiorst series but it did, at least, pick up and audience big enough to justify the BBC giving it another go. After a disastrous work conference, Reggie has fled to the beach, where he faces a choice between walking out to sea or starting a new life. With Fay Ripley and Neil Stuke.

And, finally, World's Most Extreme Airports - 7:30 Channel Five - is a feature-length documentary highlighting the treacherous conditions at ten of the world's most dangerous airports. Airline pilots and staff face a constant battle to ensure a smooth and safe operation as they deal with unpredictable weather, tough terrain, high-rise buildings and short runways with sheer drops.

And, so to the news: BBC unions have called off a strike which threatened to affect coverage of next week's Conservative Party conference. Journalists, technicians and other broadcast staff had been due to walk out on 5 and 6 October over a pension dispute. But the National Union of Journalists said the BBC had made 'a significant new offer' over the proposed cuts. NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear said: 'We have received in the past few hours what we consider to be a significant new offer from the BBC. There are still some issues to be clarified around it, so we're going to consult with our members and see what they think of it. But we have achieved a great deal in terms of making the BBC move from their original, extremely punitive proposals to something we think is fairer.' The strike call came after a BBC announcement of plans to cap pensionable pay at one per cent from next April and revalue pensions at a lower level. Dear added: 'We're not saying it's a done deal yet - we're going to consult with members and therefore in order for that to happen we've called off the first two strike dates, but we've left two strike days on the 19 and 20 October and been given the authority by our members to call further strike dates should that be necessary.' In an e-mail to staff, BBC Director General Mark Thompson welcomed the decision to suspending the planned industrial action. Explaining the corporation's new pension offer, he said: 'We have listened carefully to you throughout our consultation on pension reform and have adjusted our proposals as a result.' However, he added, the latest proposal represented the BBC's 'final position. We cannot and will not make any adjustments to them which would involve further cost or any loss of future affordability.'

Richard Desmond's Channel Five is reported to have hired BBC cast-off Ben Collins, the racing driver who played Top Gear's The Stig, to appear in rival motoring show Fifth Gear. Collins, who appeared as the helmet-wearing anonymous driver on BBC2's Top Gear from 2003, was recently sacked from the show after it emerged he was preparing to publish a biography in which he unmasked himself as The Stig. Last month, the BBC failed to win an injunction to halt the publication of Collins's book. He will make his debut on Fifth Gear, which also features other former Top Gear presenters Tiff Needell and Vicki Butler-Henderson, when the new series of starts next Friday night. Press reports suggest that Collins will take on 'Stig-like' roles, in a 'colourful racing suit,' and will also appear as a co-presenter minus racing garb. However, he will not be able to wear the trademark all-white racing outfit and helmet synonymous with The Stig because the BBC holds the rights to that image and the character was created by Andy Wilman and Jeremy Clarkson. Both of whom aren't, exactly, sending the love-vibes in Collins' direction at present. 'I'm delighted to be joining the Fifth Gear team,' said Collins. 'And I am looking forward to a new set of exciting challenges, apparently with and without the helmet.' Steve Gowans, the Channel Five head of factual entertainment, added: 'We're delighted to have the Ben on board – it will be fascinating to see how he does in a head-to-head with Tiff and Jason [Plato] – the best drivers on TV.' Collins will appear in at least five of the episodes of the new series.

According to Internet rumours, Kate Garraway is about to be replaced as host of The Biggest Loser (or, perhaps just as The Biggest Loser) by Christine Bleakley. If true, that's got to hurt. Twice in one year, that must be getting rather tiresome for full-of-herself Katie.

Prince Charles has turned comedy critic, bemoaning the modern scene as dominated by the 'witless humour of cruelty and smut.' The Prince of Wales has famously been a fan of The Goons since his schooldays, and says their humour is a perfect antidote to today's comedians. His comments come in a foreword to a book about the comedy troupe, written by the late Sir Harry Secombe's son Andy. Charles wrote: 'The tragedy, of course, is that these brilliantly funny men are no longer with us to lighten up our lives. But, much as they are missed, their work survives and anyone wanting a respite from today's fashion for the witless humour of cruelty and smut could do worse than seek out the repeats of The Goons shows on Radio 7.' The Royal Family, ladies and gentlemen. Stuck in the 1950s. You heard it here ... last.

The BBC's iPlayer is the most user-friendly catch-up TV service in the UK, while Sky Player lacks sufficiently clear navigation features, a new report has claimed. According to a study conducted by user experience consultancy Webcredible, iPlayer achieved an eighty eight per cent rating and was praised for being the 'most usable video on-demand offering.' STV Player, the Scottish ITV licence holder's video on-demand platform, came in second place with a seventy six per cent rating. STV's head of digital Alistair Brown said: 'We always try to put our audiences at the centre of what we do and I'm delighted that this has been recognised by an independent usability report. I'm particularly pleased as the STV Player was developed on an extremely cost effective basis and in a very short timescale; the site and its production infrastructure were designed and developed over twelve weeks by the in-house team at STV. We have work scheduled to enhance the service in the next few months.' Also in the Webcredible rankings, Demand Five came in third with seventy two per cent, followed by Channel 4's 4OD with sixty eight per cent and ITV Player with sixty per cent. Bringing up the rear was Sky's online TV service Sky Player, which 'lost marks by not having a clear explanation on the differences between its subscription packages and the programmes that fall under these different packages, making it harder for site visitors to find a programme to watch.' However, Webcredible noted that Sky Player was the only paid-for model out of the six services analysed, and had a 'more complex commercialised offering.' The company based the scores on ten different categories, including the VOD site's ease of use, search functionality and additional features, such as links to social media sites. Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Webcredible's director Trenton Moss said: 'Despite the overall high scores, it's surprising that the sites reviewed do not make more of an effort to engage their users. The functionality offered by many of the VOD sites is very similar, so user engagement is an area where sites can really look to differentiate themselves. This lack of engagement is particularly important for broadcaster VOD [services] to compete with sites like YouTube and new market players such as SeeSaw.'

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