Saturday, 28 April 2012

A wide world of sport and a whole new world for me...

In the past couple of weeks I have decided to spread my wings somewhat by trying to write for the local Portsmouth News, by doing a piece for their Saturday TV Nostalgia column. It may not be an in-depth piece, that it is not the style of the column at all, but its a start a I suppose... Here it is..

In today's world of multiple sports channels, its hard to forget there was a time when two shows dominated Saturday afternoons, the BBC had Grandstand whilst ITV's version was World of Sport. Though the two could not have been more different at all, if Grandstand was like  a luxury sofa, then World of Sport was like a beanbag.

It was presented by Dickie Davies for all of its life, a man who looked like a cross between a badger and a used car salesman whilst all the time helming a mixed bag of sports from the sublime to the ridiculous titled including the World Clown Diving Championship. Which was basically men in fuzzy rainbow coloured wigs diving into a paddling pool for entertainment.

On Christmas Eve 1977, Eric Morecambe brought his brand of comedy to help Dickie Davies present the programme. Even leading to Morecambe commenting on Davies' trademark moustache whilst Dickie was introducing the next with the line "The last time I saw anything like that they kill a whole herd of buffalo to make it!" With Davies trying to keep a straight face throughout this chaos happening around him!

In the end with ITV wanting to head in a new direction with its sports coverage, World of Sport was axed in 1985. But for a programme which was going to be called 'Wide World of Sports' originally, it did pretty good by covering events more close to home.

2012 (c) Rob Williams

Sunday, 15 April 2012

For the children... From local transmitters

As a kid I remember watching children's shows from both BBC and ITV and being from the south there was much to look at especially from TVS, but as well as it might be it may have looked professional but it still seemed a bit distant to me. In the BBC's Hey Look That's Me there was no no fancy budget, hell, there was a studio just small enough to squeeze a camera in. But it was this homeliness which appealed to me, even so much as writing to the programme and getting some badges in return for do so.

Though what I have seen and read, each region has tried to champion its own output, in Scotland The Untied Shoelaces Show entertained Scottish children through the school holidays and the South West, TSW served up Freeze Frame as a Saturday morning alternative to their children. But having this showed that their commitment to local programming was strong and it didn't have to always to appeal to the widest possible group. By having programmes like this for children, the regions felt that this was a link to their youngest viewers, hook them early and they'll stay loyal to your company.

Anglia was an example of a franchise, which would plug away to the network and supplying children's programmes with regularity, the same as Southern/TVS to supplement the bigger companies offerings. But they also had to remember that their viewers were important, so they both created programmes which appealed to their viewers embracing the local flavour. Even through birthday spots for most smaller companies that Gus Honeybun, BC, Oscar Puffin and even Ivor Honeypot became recognisable unofficial mascots for the stations they appeared on. Though Gus Honeybun came to optimise both Westward and TSW as well, becoming as big as the announcers who helped him.

Those days have long gone now with Channel gamely battle on with Oscar Puffin in new decade, not even a friendly puffin can suffice in the world of television now. Though I find it interesting that CBBC when for characters similar to this back up their presenters in the relaunch of the channel, so perhaps they are still there, maybe in spirit but you'll always need a dog or cactus to draw the viewers in.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Carlton - Television for Government...

What is political conviction and where does it come from? Most people would say it is the way people are brought up and what they see as they are growing up to make their country a better place to live. Which is true to a point, as that shapes a person's view on life. Over time though a person's political feelings can change. But what about if you get the top job? Where exactly do you get your style of how to run your government?

Some may say, it comes from what has gone before and learning from other's mistakes or that does seem what it used to be, as in for the greater good. It can be said that Saatchi and Saatchi had a major influence on the style and presentation of Margaret Thatcher's election campaign in 1979, though even before when she became leader of the Tory Party in 1975, that influence was slowly moving into place.

That maybe all well and good, but its since 1997 and the election of Tony Blair as Prime Minister that we have seen some taking a business style to politics and using their experiences in their previous experiences, in his case of being a lawyer, that he took into government. In law making, the legal case was used, but not always that was the case. I am speaking more of the style that a lawyer uses in court and in serving a client by using legalese in what ever policy was put forward. In some cases, that worked and in others this spectacularly went wrong. Meaning a mish-mash of policy decisions and the government of that time right upto the 2010 General Election.

Because of the result of that election which left no party in overall control and the need for government, that the coaltion government which is now in power. David Cameron, who is the Prime Minister was the Head of PR at Carlton Television, though it seems that some of the coaltion's ideas and style have come from his days working there. 

For example, the Big Society was launched with the government looking for people to give up their time to help projects by volunteering. Though this does seem similar to ITV's year 200 project 'The Day of Promise' where people were encouraged to give up their time to volunteer for community projects. It can be said that with the policies which have been put forward are like Carlton Television itself in their franchise form, lots of show but no substance. This has never been more the case during the past week when the row over VAT on hot food and also the comments made by Francis Maude to store petrol have seen to be attention grabbing statements without nothing behind it, making sure farce has become real and better then anything Anthony Jay and Jonathan Lynn could have written for Jim Hacker himself. Seemingly it is ironic that Gold has commissioned a new version of Yes, Prime Minister in the same week that this has all happened. So maybe life has become art after all as the business way becomes the normal way of dealing in politics.