Friday, August 29, 2008

Sod it, it's the weekend

I have seen the future and it's really, really irritating

Oh god.

Fiona Phillips has announced she's leaving GMTV.

I've got a really horrible feeling she's part of Gordon's September fight-back, isn't she?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Plooks: Code 9

(a terribly clever joke for all our Scottish readers there).

Here's my review of Spooks: Code 9, from the Private Eye that came out last week.

Way back in December 2006, with BBC One’s superlative spy drama Spooks at its height - Ruth had just safely sailed away up the river away from her nailbiting will-they-won’t-they-oh-blimey-actually-they-won’t relationship with Harry Pearce, and the pretty boy was busy drowning under the Thames barrier with her off of Cold Feet – BBC Three controller Julian Bellamy announced a spin-off entitled Rogue Spooks as part of his spring season. Eighteen months, one channel controller and a name change later, the resulting show slithers out on Sundays in the middle of August. Has some unintended topicality – a fictional atrocity tragically reflected in reality – caused the scheduling delay? No. Make no mistake: Spooks: Code 9 (you can bet they focus-grouped Codes One through Eight and found they didn’t play well with the 16-24-year-old demographic) is limping out at the bottom of the year because it’s the biggest heap of steaming radioactive waste ever to contaminate the name of a successful brand.

Not, that is, that it’s allowed to get anywhere near its parent programme. To avoid any of the difficult questions thrown up by after-hours Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood (“What’s Captain Jack been doing since he last saw the Doctor, Daddy?” – “Shagging”) Code 9 is set five years in the future, following the abject failure of Harry Pearce’s mob to save London, which has been destroyed in a nuclear explosion. This being a digital channel, it’s a very minor nuclear explosion which takes place mostly in the distance and in the form of various bits of stock footage, allowing for some ghoulishly nostalgic disaster-spotting – “isn’t that Canary Wharf after the IRA bomb? And there are the poll-tax riots!” It also neatly removes any subsequent peril or tension – given that, as the voiceover informs us, unknown terrorists have already “incinerated over 100,000 people and given many more a death sentence through radiation”, you’re left asking, well, what’s the worst that can happen if our heroes fail to save the day?

Not a lot, it would seem – which is fortunate, since the heroes in question are a bunch of pouty 19-year-olds who have been recruited solely on the strength of Big-Brother style audition videos, in which they compete to outdo one another in smuggery. “Terrorists are getting younger, so you’re probably looking for younger spies,” swaggers one blonde. “Am I right?” Well, no dear, not really. Some older spies with experience in the field and training in how to spot and neutralise potential terrorists, whatever their vintage, might just come in useful. Ah, but they’ve all buggered off, as a helpful character explains in one of the great clunking lists of expository dialogue in which this show excels: “25 per cent of officers wiped out in the bomb. Half the remainder migrating to the private sector.” Really? The disloyal bastards! But not to worry – our trusty band of school-leavers are so achingly patriotic that union flags are sometimes randomly superimposed on their faces – at least until the end of the first episode, when the director got bored and couldn’t be bothered with that particular tic any more.

That innovation aside, it’s cliché all the way: chases take place across roof-tops before villains fail to grasp the proffered hand and plunge to their deaths; deceased characters leave valedictory videos which point out “if you’re watching this, I must be dead” and both sexual tension and menace are signified by characters standing halitosis-inhalingly close to one another and wiggling their eyebrows a lot. Regular shots of barbed wire, ID cards and surveillance cameras are intended to establish the Big Brother theme that is obviously going to be the series’ big revelation (“you mean we’re not the good guys after all?”) but just serve to remind viewers what an editorial standby the cut to black-and-white CCTV has become. Even the trick of killing off a major character early in the story, as shockingly introduced by grown-up Spooks and recycled in the aforementioned Torchwood, is no longer remotely surprising, although the intended cries of “I can’t believe they did that!” duly erupt when the corpse is replaced as unit leader by a gawky teen who has been a spy for slightly under 24 hours.

The real shock, however, is the quality of the spin-off’s spin-offs: because this is BBC Three we are in the realm of 360-degree commissioning and multi-platform gubbins, which in this case boils down to a diverting fake “news from 2013” website and an impressive choose-your-own-adventure game which allows you to scan in your own face and play as a moving, breathing character in a tale that is far more exciting than anything on the marginally-bigger screen. Since original ideas, convincing plots, decent dialogue and half-capable actors seem to be beyond the grasp of BBC Three’s drama department, might they be better off – not to mention more in tune with their target audience – just abandoning around 270 degrees of their commissioning process and concentrating on becoming a quite capable little computer games developer instead?


Friday, August 22, 2008

Here's odd.

Yes, I've been googling myself. Tragic, isn't it?

My interview with Cher, 7 years ago.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Books (partially) written by me which actually are going to come out this year



Notes to editors

Three memories of the PR industry dating from my brief career in celebrity journalism, inspired by reading the memoirs of Mark Frith – look into those eyes and feel your soul begin to ebb away – in this week’s Daily Mail.

1. The record company publicist, who, when informed that this was a really really bad time to call and the only reason I’d picked up the phone at all was because I thought she might be the libel lawyer with the vital piece of information I needed before press deadline in a matter of minutes – pitched thus: “it’s alright, this won’t take long, I just wanted to check you’d got the press pack I sent over for Miss-Teeq? You did? And what did you think of the sampler? And would you consider them for a cover? You wouldn’t? That really surprises me, because we thought they’d be a perfect fit for The Big Issue, because, you know, they’re from the streets. I mean obviously, I don’t mean they’re actually homeless.”

2. The brutally honest lady at Henry’s House, who when pressed for why she wouldn’t give us an interview with Will Young after he won Pop Idol in 2002 (even when I hit her with the usual “but if you say no, TRAMPS WILL STARVE” schtick), admitted: “to be honest he’s quite dull. We’re holding him back until he’s got a bit more to say.”

3. The rather less convincing PR for the MOBO awards, to whom, in an attempt to get any human reaction from her whatsoever, I repeated the story about John Mckie from Smash Hits throwing up all over Mariah Carey. “Mariah was so nice about it,” she beamed, glassy-eyed. D'you think she was telling the truth, boys and girls?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Will no one think of the Goths?

Worst result of Peaches Geldof's Vegas wedding? According to the Mirror:

A pal of Crestfallen Faris Badwan, 21, said "He feels he's been made a bit of a laughing stock during all of this."

Lead singer of the Horrors? A laughing stock? Never!

Although the Sun says he was staying over at her house the night before last, so someone's "pal", somewhere, is telling porkies...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

You know you are getting old when...

... the names of new Radio 1 DJs just start to look like spelling mistakes.

In other changes to the station's music output, which will come into effect in October, Kutski gets a new hard dance and hardcore show at 1am on Saturday morning.

Kutsi will be followed by another new show, 1Xtra DJ MistaJam's 1Xtra Mixtape, at 3am.

Kissy Sell Out, with a jump-up rock and rave show, replaces Halliwell at midnight on Thursdays, while newcomers Heidi Van den Amstel and Jaymo & Andy George join the rota of presenters on the In New DJs We Trust slot at 2am on Friday mornings.

You can, incidentally, date anyone by which DJs were on the front of their Which Way Now? booklet they were given by their careers teacher prior to choosing their GCSE/O-level options. Mine? Bruno Brookes and the Rankin' Miss P. Yours?

How insensitive can you get?

Not only did John Leslie dare to visit the same county that his ex lives in, he allowed a newspaper to publish something at a very difficult time for her:

Coming as the interview did in the month of Isabelle's second birthday, the timing could be seen as particularly thoughtless and infuriating.

I can reveal that he also callously sometimes watches the same television programmes as she does, heartlessly uses the same supermarket chain she prefers and, perhaps most shockingly, continues to drive a car despite the fact that this has long been her own preferred method of travelling large distances. The bastard.

Standby to reverse ferret...

The Sun knew exactly what line to take on fit-up victim Colin Stagg's compensation payout this morning:

Fury erupted last night as wrongly-accused murder suspect Colin Stagg was awarded £706,000... Danny Biddle, 28, who lost his legs, an eye and spleen because of 7/7 but was awarded only £118,000, said: “Our system is disgraceful.”

Stagg’s compo is far above that of Rachel’s little son Alex, who witnessed the horrific murder.

And then came the reaction from readers on the paper's website:

People need to take a step back here this guy was not guilty... posted by [RolanTheRat]
This guys life was ruined, he deserves the payout posted by [Mark2805]
I cannot imagine how horrific it would be to spend even one ... posted by [Thrasymacus]
hey wait a minute this guy deserves even more than that like... posted by [makalugirl]
Yes the award given to Stagg is generous, to say the least, ... posted by [Jay_B]
Whats all the fuss about??..this guy has had his life ruined... posted by [tommyhanson]
in fact colin go and have a bloody good few lagers and live ... posted by [makalugirl]
Yeah, he deserves every penny. You cant compare this to the ... posted by [kenny26]
16 years of life ruined £706,000 divided by 16 £44,125... posted by [BigDave1971]
if it was a fit up by the old bill and he is definetly innoc... posted by [number0ne]
Colin Stagg was proved not guilty and is now according to hi... posted by [rogtann]
Rolan you are talking absolute nonsense. Ok so he was innoc... posted by [Robw548]
BigDave's right, the cops have ruined this guy's entire life... posted by [littlemermaidwoo]
I don't have a problem with Colin Stagg receiving that amoun... posted by [tillytuppence]
This is absolutely right. The poor lad spent a year in jail ... posted by [Evansdad]
the police got a bee in their bonnet over him,but because he... posted by [man2]
Bigdave1971 Well done and I totally agree posted by [smokeyboy157]
Robw548- this is gonna sound harsh but whilst I have the hug... posted by [mamamirabelle]
Where are the police officers who investigated this injustic... posted by [gsouness]
What is the problemin him receiving this payout. For a de... posted by [Huggy_Bear]

I wonder if Rebekah's already commissioned the "At home with poor Colin as he tries to rebuild his shattered life" piece?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Thoughts on reading OK! magazine's coverage of the secret castle wedding of Gareth Gates

Is there any picture caption in the world more depressing than "The bride and groom with Dane Bowers"?

Friday, August 01, 2008

I'm very very late with this...

... the internet is so big, and my speed-reading so very slow, but this made me laugh a lot (as well as making an extremely good point)