Category: TV Page 2 of 14

The Ghost Of My Holiday Romance Toyboy Husband Shot My Conjoined Twin Baby As She Lay Dying Of Leukaemia… But I Still Love Him!

For some years now, the shelves of newsagents have been awash with… well, I don’t know what you’d call them, really; tragic confession magazines? I’m sure you know the sort of thing – like the one pictured here, they’re jam-packed with true tales of tragedy and woe, and yet often topped with a no-context-at-all picture of a smiling woman. Given the coverlines swirling around her, I always wonder: just what is she smiling at?

Anyway, there are a lot of these magazines, and a lot of the tales seem to focus around death or children or the deaths or illnesses of children, but there seems to be very little coverage of them; I can’t help but wonder if, like their equivalent in book publishing, they’re a bit of a ‘dirty secret’ – very lucrative, but not necessarily something that the folks involved want to admit to being involved in or talk about too much. Like being a pimp or drug dealer, or the composer of The Ketchup Song.

But, in a strange case of synchronicity, these magazines are the focus of not one, but two programmes on TV this week – one on Tuesday and another – on a different channel – on Thursday.

Hang on a mo, though… is it synchronicity… or a clever marketing ploy?

Hmm. If the latter, then my simple-minded ways have been exploited by a cruel media machine. I feel so dirty and used, like my very soul’s been violated.

Perhaps I should sell my story.

Not So Much A Blog, More A Way Of Scoring Points

None of my schoolfriends believed me when I maintained that there was something… unexpected on Penelope Pitstop’s car dashboard.

But this screengrab vindicates me. Oh yes.

And now, with this decade-spanning disagreement finally resolved in my favour, I can move on with my life.

NB: There is a possibility the above is slightly exaggerated to justify showing an innuendal image. Do not panic. All is well. Please do not adjust your ‘nets.

“Seeing Is Believing”…

…has not been true since Winsor McCay and Gertie The Dinosaur, but it’s startling to see just how much greenscreening there is in use, especially in TV shows where you might not expect it.

I mean: Ugly Betty? Seriously, I’d never have expected that.

10 Things I’ve Learned From Watching Come Dine With Me A Smidgen Too Often

1. Anyone described as being a ‘self-confessed foodie’ is usually a bit of a pain

2. When shopping in your local deli/butcher/fishmonger, be sure to mention that you’re holding a dinner party, and address the person behind the counter by their first name more often than is normal in conversation

3. Not supplying drink for your guests, even if it’s for religious or medical reasons, usually leads to them getting a right arse on

4. Musical entertainment, whether provided by you or hired professionals, is not a good idea if you want to win

5. Any female contestant not in some kind of relationship will be labelled a ‘singleton’ in the commentary

6. Depending on how the group is constituted in terms of gender, a butler (with or without a shirt) may be popular

7. Don’t try out something new on the night of your big event (actually, re haircuts and outfits and the like, this rule applies to much of life)

8. Rare is the person who can lift the silver salver without making the money move in some way. Less rare is being able to see the cameraman reflected in the surface of the salver

9. It’s impossible to stand in the kitchen and talk to the camera about the meal you’re preparing without acting like you’re either Nigella L or Hugh F-W

10. Dave Lamb’s voiceovers for Come Dine With Me are like the commentary for Masterchef, but with an awareness that – ultimately – we are only talking about cooking here.

…Which is probably why I watch the show a bit too much, as the above rather shows.

BBC Writing For Continuing Drama Q&A

So, the good folks at BBC Writersroom are holding another one of their Q&A sessions, this time about Continuing Drama, and they’ll also be talking about the BBC Writers Academy. Attending will be John Yorke, whose name you might recognise from the end of the credits for a lot of TV shows.

It’s at the Drill Hall in London (kind of equidistant between Warren Street and Tottenham Court Road tubes), on Thursday 4 March from 6:00pm. It’s free to get in, but you need to send an e-mail asking if they can add you to the guest list, otherwise one of their scary bouncers will throw you out.

I’ve made a vague plan to focus this year on non-visual media (by which idiotic turn of phrase I mean the novel and writing for radio), but this sounds like a good chance to grab an insight into an area which I’d certainly be interested to write for (I’m not ruling TV or films out forever, I just want to prevent myself being the jack-of-all-manuscripts and finisher of none), so I think I might give it a go.

Full details can be founded right here

And in case you think that the accompanying picture is inappropriate, I’d politely disagree; it refers to events in the Queen Vic on most evenings.

“In my experience, those who beg for mercy seldom deserve it.”

No, I haven’t gone all hard-boiled; those are the works which you have to use as a first line if you decide to enter Alibi’s search for a new crime writer competition.

The first line is supplied by Stuart MacBride, and then it’s up to you to complete the story (between 2000 and 5000 words in all) and get it to them by noon on Saturday 16 May.

The prizes are pretty decent, I feel – they’ll pay for you to go to the Crime Writing Festival, and you get 100 crime books (though as one of the other prizes is an e-reader, these might be eBooks, I suppose), and they make your story into a downloadable e-edition. I’ve certainly seen worse prizes, and entry is free.

Full details are available here. I’m planning to give it a go, let me know if you decide to.

Actually, thinking about it, I might go for something a bit hard-boiled, or noirish, might be interesting to try writing in a very different voice from the usual…

Slightly Further To Yesterday’s Post, But Not Entirely

A new word for your dictionary…

Jedward [Jed’wood]

1. portmanteau n. Contestants John and Edward in ITV talent contest The X-Factor in 2009. Their elimination sparked a very short-lived campaign of complaints.

2. n. Slang term for any item which excites a great deal of interest for a brief spell and is then forgotten as though it had never existed. Often applied to workplace tasks whose lasting impact is inversely proportionate to the importance placed upon their timely creation at short notice, as in:

“Dave, I need a full report on the last six years’ sales figures for the MD, by tomorrow morning.”
“If I bust my guts to deliver it on time, will he actually read it, or is this another bloody Jedward?”

The Never-Ending Story

Unlike many, many people, I haven’t yet watched the Doctor Who episodes The End Of Time, though I’ve got them through iPlayer, and they’re sitting on my computer awaiting my eyeballs.

In a similar fashion, I haven’t read the final volume in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, though I really like the books, and the finale is on my ‘to read’ bookshelf.

I don’t watch Heroes any more, though I cheerfully followed the first series all the way until the penultimate episode, and only missed the finale because I mis-set the recorder; granted, most people I know are suggesting that I didn’t miss much (either in that finale or what has followed), but I was oddly content with leaving it where it was.

I’ve written before about how mysteries and questions can be as satisfying as resolutions and answers, and it’s certainly a feeling that seems to be increasing in my thinking; which is odd, given that one thing that I find deeply satisfying if it’s present (and frankly irritating if it’s not) is a story in which it’s clear that the creator knows where they’re going and what they’re doing.

And yet, like a reunion of a much-missed band or sequel to a much-loved tale, the anticipation can overwhelm the reality, and your excited imaginings can far outstrip what’s actually delivered.

In part, this is an inevitable result of items being exaggerated in their importance; there’s a story which I love (especially if it’s true) that when a group of journalists were attending the official release of the ‘reunited Beatles’ song Free As A Bird, they were asked to turn away as the boxes of the single were carried onstage. One of them, apparently (and rightly) said ‘oh, for god’s sake, it’s only a record!’, and refused to turn away, at which point all the others did the same. Don’t get me wrong, I think the Beatles are far and away the most important band … well, probably ever, but a new song from them is, when all’s said and done, a song, and it’s unlikely that its four minutes or so of music and lyrics is going to actually, literally, knock the world off its axis or otherwise change absolutely everything forever and ever and ever.

I think there’s a similar hyperbole applied to many things, be they books or films or albums or comics or whatever, much of which seems to be intended to get people all giddy and excited and convinced that this thing really, really matters just long enough that they slap down money for it, and after that, well, so long and thanks for all the dosh. In a way, it’s pretty much evident from, say, the promotion for films – there are trailers and posters and interviews on chat shows and press releases dressed up as news reports (I’m looking at you, free newspapers), but within a day or two of the film’s opening, it’s almost as if the massed media has forgotten about what it was so recently talking about, and is trying to pretend its fleeting obsession never happened.

Seemingly the most obvious version of this, though it doesn’t quite follow the theory, is the way that winners of The X-Factor tend to vanish without trace for the best part of a year until they bob back up to the surface of public consciousness in late autumn, to ride the wave of pubic interest generated by the new series of the show. There’s a very real danger in this instance that the public – who are, after all, encouraged to pretend that this really matters as the series goes on, and to forget about people whose standing in the show they were terrifically excited about the previous week – will forget all about these newly-born ‘stars’ in the intervening months, though I guess it takes a few months of being strapped into Simon Cowell’s Strip-Away-Any-Vestige-Of-Personality-And-Ensure-We-Can-Flog-Them-To-The-US-O-Tron before they can be presented safely to the public. But I digress.

I guess one has to be realistic about the level of expectation involved – and when I say ‘one’, I mean you. And me. The final Harry Potter book or a newly-discovered full version of The Magnificent Ambersons or [insert your Holy Grail here] may be a terrifically exciting prospect, but as so many people felt about the Star Wars prequels or Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, the finished article may not live up to your expectations (which may themselves have been stoked by blanket coverage and exaggeration of the item’s properties and importance). Don’t get me wrong, I still retain a frankly child-like ability to get excitable about things which – in the long run, and often in other people’s estimation – aren’t really that important, but I’m trying to keep a sense of perspective, and realise that a comic which finally and definitively settles the fanboy question of whether Captain America could beat Batman in a fight* is, five years down the line, less likely to be quite so important to me, and may well in fact be a bit of a disappointment.

And of course, holding off on the climax has its own rewards (oh, stop that, you filth; you know what I mean): as far as I’m concerned, the story’s still taking place – David Tennant is still The Doctor (though I’m optimistic about the Moffat/Smith era), and Roland Deschain is still en route to the Tower, and neither story’s end has come as a disappointment.

Unlike – very probably for many of you – this lengthy and rambling post, whose end probably comes as a blessed relief.

*Of course he couldn’t – Batman would win hands-down.

A Second Edition (Should That Be ‘Opinion’?)

Many moons ago, I referred – albeit fleetingly – to the book The Writer’s Tale by Russell T Davies.

As you might imagine from the title, it’s an account of his experiences working on Doctor Who, incorporating scripts as well as featuring nicely candid e-mails between RTD and the journalist Benjamin Cook. It came out in a nice hardback form in 2008, and as you can see from the picture to the left, the paperback has come out – with, cripes, a big chunk of new material, covering the episodes which were broadcast in 2009. In the absence of a ‘supplement’ being issued for hardback-owners, I think that 300 pages of new material is a pretty good lure to buy it again, really.

Anyway, I wanted to draw your attention to the updated Writer’s Tale website, which now features downloadable PDFs of the scripts for the 2009 Specials, including The End Of Time. And, unlike the book I sound suspiciously like I’m hawking above, the scripts can be had for the always-nice sum of nought pence.

I always think it’s interesting to have a look at how these things are done (even if the depth of my insight is limited to thoughts like “Hmm, these episodes are numbered as an extension of the previous series”). A peek behind the curtain, as it were.

Channel Surfing

My current reading material is the second volume of Michael Palin’s Diaries, a very thoughtful Christmas pressie from Mrs S. It covers the 1980s, when Mr P was featuring in an impressive array of films (Time Bandits, The Meaning Of Life, and Brazil, for example).

However, for sheer unexpectedness, one of my favourite onscreen Palin moments is the following from 2006:

All things considered, I think he underplays it rather nicely; good to see an extra not trying to scene-steal in any way whatsoever. Ahem.

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