Posts Tagged TV

Something funny for the Weekend?

Tim Lovejoy (@timlovejoy to fellow Twitterers) posted a plea this morning. Comedian Sean Lock had to withdraw at short notice from Something for the Weekend, did people have any jokes for Tim to fill in?

For visiting Martians, SFTW is a BBC2 Sunday morning foodie/footy show so any jokes would need to be cheerful and family-friendly (and preferably foodie or footy or both).

Here are some of the responses

Two parrots on a perch: one says to the other, can you smell fish? (@TashTheBlade)

Two oranges walk in to a bar, one said to the other………your round! (@cjlees)

Andrew Lloyd-Webber goes into Burger King and asks for two Whoppers. The reply “You’re handsome and your music is great!” (@DarrenPayneUK)

Jonathon Ross has been arrested for shop lifting a kitchen utensil from Asda. Ross says it was a whisk he had to take (@Hillmania)

My own suggestion?

Man in a restaurant sees Oasis soup on the menu. Intrigued, he orders it but when the soup comes, it’s just ordinary tomato soup. He calls over the waiter. “Waiter, why is this called Oasis soup?” Waiter: [sings] “You gotta roll with it….”

Always makes me laugh.

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TV Times….

Richard was watching Match of the Day this morning, when our TV died. (I blame the fact that they were just saying something nice about Spurs.)

I am now watching a rather small and tinny Andrew Marr on the PC.

There may not be any TV in the Gospel accounts of the Nativity, but Christmas without a TV is not exactly what we had planned. So Rich has already leapt into action and ordered a new TV online. John Lewis to the rescue, we hope.

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Daily Politics, but not ‘politics as usual’

After Friday’s Old Street air quality protest, I headed off to Westminster for an appearance on the BBC Daily Politics show. (It was only after I’d passed reception at Millbank that I realised I still had my facemask in my handbag – not sure what security would have made of that!)

I’d allowed extra time to get there, allowing for tubes, tourists and Tamils, but in fact had time to pop into party HQ for coffee and a chat with Chris Fox(no relation). Chris is the party’s head of communications and combines his Herefordshire accent with a passion for the Arsenal: the Gunners pennant takes pride of place in his office. Sound man!

We speculated what topics might come up on the show – but of course there was really only one: MPs expenses.

With leading Conservative Nick Boles, plus south London Labour candidate Chuka Umunna, we debated how far reforms should go and whether independent candidates were the answer. We also had the leader of the UK Conservative MEPs, Timothy Kirkhope, trying to justify his party leaving the mainstream European People’s Party for a random grouping of fascists and fruitcakes… You can catch the show on iPlayer here.

One of the interesting angles to come out of the whole expenses scandal is this desire for more independent candidates. Both independent of the whips within parties; and candidates independent of any party. As I said on the Daily Politics – and as Nick Clegg has also said – I don’t have a problem with indepedents. You do need political parties to make democracy work; but voters must be free to choose anyone they want to represent them, even if the traditional parties lose out. But for that to happen we need a fairer votes system.

On 4 June, thanks to the PR system, there is no such thing as a wasted vote. Londoners from anywhere in the capital who want to vote Lib Dem (or any other party) will know that their vote counts in full. That ought to be the case for any election, but sadly it’s not. In the local and General elections, with the ‘first past the post’ system, most constituencies are a two-horse race. In Islington, it’s Lib Dems vs Labour; the Greens have just one councillor, and Conservatives none. With Emily Thornberry’s Islington South & Finsbury majority just 484 votes ahead of the Lib Dems, electors face a clear choice: vote Lib Dem for change, while any other vote helps Labour cling on.

The outdated Westminster system means that many seats are ‘safe’ so the real selection is done by the leading party not the voters. That doesn’t encourage independent thinkers. Interestingly, there’s evidence that the safer the seat, the more likely the MP is to have dodgy expenses.

Reform may be starting, urgently, with MPs expenses, but it must not end there. With speculation that hundreds of MPs may be swept away this time round, the traditional Labour/Tory version of ‘politics as usual’ is on the way out.

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Suspicious minds

I often end up eating supper in front of a late night episode of ‘Law and Order’ or ‘CSI’ – not ideal given all those autopsies.

Mobile phones have become intrinsic to the plots: not just for the characters to contact each other, but tracing calls, connecting witnesses, and even locating suspects by triangulating their signals. Last weekend, we went to see ‘Duplicity’: good film, great plot – and impossible without mobile phones. No wonder Orange sponsor the movies.

My mobile isn’t very fancy. But in my life as in the films, it’s become indispensible. If I pop out to post a letter, I take my keys – and my phone. That’s my choice. The dramas feature mobiles as potential accessories to crime: drug dealers’ throwaway phones, illicit photos, even bomb triggers. It never occurred to me that not having a phone might be suspicious.

Then I read this piece by David Mery (a fellow supporter of NO2ID), reporting two cases where not carrying a mobile was given as grounds for arrest. In Germany, an arrest warrant for Andrej Holm said “The fact that he – allegedly intentionally – did not take his mobile phone with him to a meeting is considered as ‘conspiratorial behavior’.”

And in France a group of students were arrested because, as the Interior Minister said, “They have adopted the method of clandestinity. They never use a mobile phone. They managed to have, in the village of Tarnac, friendly relations with people who could warn them of the presence of strangers.”

In just a few years, mobiles, like TVs, are seen as a universal norm. My friends without TVs get endless hassle from the licensing authorities who seem unwilling to believe anyone can live without the box. Although with iPlayer etc, traditional TV sets are now more dispensible than ever.

David Mery, meanwhile, has his own experience of being seen as suspicious. In 2005 he was arrested for having a combination of a beard, a backpack and a laptop on the tube (geeks of the world beware). Oh, and having a mobile phone.

He has since been one of the few people to succeed in getting his DNA off the police database. In the world of ‘Law and Order’, cases are tied up within the hour. In the real world, it took David over two years to clear his name.

As he concludes, “Aren’t the Police supposed to keep tabs only on convicted criminals and individuals under investigation? So even though the Police concluded I was arrested without a cause, otherwise they would have had a duty to prosecute me, personal information remains in the Police national computer; which can be shared with Europol and Interpol, in other Police databases around the world. Isn’t a state that keeps files on innocent persons a police state?

“This gradual erosion of our fundamental liberties should be of concern to us all.”

You can sign the Lib Dem petition to take all innocent people’s DNA off the national register here.

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Law and Order UK

Just caught up with the first episode of the first episode of Law & Order UK. Fantastic.

All the best aspects of the US version – great acting, credible characters, insights into the life of the city as well as the workings of the law, and a page-turning story.

And it’s set in Islington – according to the famous titles at least. The only identifiable backdrop is Kings Cross station – despite airy references to N1 and N19, the street names are fictional.

Also some of the excellent cast, including Bill Paterson, and Freema Agyeman have Islington connections.

Whatever the locations, I still love it. SkyPlus is set for Mondays!

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Is marketing better in black and white?

Very clever ad from First Direct.

They show clips from old films of people getting treats from friendly retailers – a buttonhole from the florist, a bone for the dog from the butcher, a lollipop from the corner shop – all part of the nostalgia for traditional customer service in an uncertain consumer world.

(They are not alone: other current ads using old film promote products as diverse as baked beans, yoghurt and energy suppliers.)

The punchline – ‘banking is better in black & white’ – plays on First Direct (or rather trendily lower case first direct) branding.

It’s a great ad. And it cunningly ignores the fact that as an internet bank, one thing first direct is not about is old-fashioned, face-to-face, high street service.

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Being Human

I really don’t know what to make of ‘Being Human’ except to say that I am loving it.

It’s uncharacterisable. It starts out like one of those ‘This Life’ dramas about good-looking young professionals house-sharing in somewhere slightly offbeat, in this case a shabby-chic bit of Bristol. Except that the housemates are a ghost, a vampire and the sweetest werewolf you could ever hope to meet (as long as it’s the right time of the month). All trying to be as human as possible.

The cast is fantastic, the central trio of course – Lenora Crichlow, Aidan Turner, and the wonderful Russell Tovey – but also a scene-stealing turn from a villainous Jason Watkins.

There are rom com moments. And moments of sheer farce, as well as occasional terror. The series has got darker as it’s gone on, with storylines about domestic violence, witch-hunting mobs, and the nature and purpose of death. Oh, and a vast vampire conspiracy.

The last episode is next week, but if you’ve missed it, worry not. If there’s any justice Series 1 will be repeated and/or out on DVD soon AND there’ll be a Series 2. Definitely worth the licence fee.

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IT’s a good servant but a bad master

My Wednesday was a long day but a good one.

I made it into Chesham for work despite the snow. I’d been able to check my chosen route online first, and got to work on time. A busy day sorting out customer’s software problems. Then straight to the Islington Lib Dem party executive where among other things we discussed the latest in web-based campaigning.

(Last time I posted that I had the party Exec in my Facebook status, I got a rush of condolence messages from other candidates! I’m incredibly lucky that I have a large and upbeat team and our meetings always get things done.)

We were meeting in Highbury Hill for a change, so my St Peter’s neighbour David and I were even able to hop on the train from Drayton Park to Essex Road: virtually door to door home. So quite a satisfying day and much of it made not only better but possible by automation.

But then disaster: I got in to catch up with Rich watching the Merseyside derby. Nil all, and well into extra time. Then suddenly ITV cuts to the ads, and back, and we find we’d missed the only goal of the night. One very grumpy Richard. So I’m glad to see that Michael Grade has apologised promptly.

It seems the problem was caused by an automated system for broadcasting adverts; it is designed to work with scheduled programmes, but not live events – like football matches going into extra time. There was no human in the room; so millions of viewers, including scorer Dan Gosling’s mum, missed out.

My day job is all about the need for an intelligent human interaction to control artificial intelligence. It’s made me a critical friend of technology, understanding its limitations as much as its benefits. Unlike code, real live people don’t always act in a pattern, don’t fit into boxes and are constant exceptions to our own and other people’s rules.

That’s why I’m so sceptical about a national identity database. More and more chances for the computer says no to mess up people’s lives.

Using IT to implement our decisions is liberating; relying on it to take decisions for us is daft – and dangerous.

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Islington’s got talent

Islington boy Joe Swash has won “I’m a Celebrity…”.

Will Islington girl Alexandra Burke make it a double (and follow Leona Lewis) by winning the X factor? Semi-finals are this weekend….

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Marketing not that super

Last year I blogged about the surreal world of celebrities advertising supermarkets at Christmas.

This year it’s got even weirder: I had an email from M&S advertising their ad… all very post-modern. And confusing given that the M&S ad features Take That – who are still warbling for Morrisons. And now we have Jason Donovan singing for Iceland. Can’t see Kylie doing that.

I’m not the only one bemused by this. The wonderful Wood Green bookshop blog expresses it all brilliantly.

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