Category Archives: TV

Reality MP

Peter Mandelson last week became the latest MP to comment on the goings on of reality TV, with his backing of Strictly Come Dancing’s John Sergeant.Photo by Helen Catt

“John Sergeant should not bow out. He has become the people’s John Travolta and he should be a fighter, not a quitter.”

It follows Andy Burnham’s comment about X Factor evictee, Laura White.

I think it’s time the tables were turned.

In the spirit of fairness, let’s make Len Goodman Speaker of the House.

 ‘Well, Alistair, your paso’s got passion but I don’t think much to your 45p tax rate’

Or put Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan in the Shadow Cabinet to buzz in when an opposition speech gets boring.

Or have Gordon Brown conducting PMQs from inside an insect-filled tank.

It’d certainly liven up BBC Parliament if nothing else.


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UPDATE: Children in Need newsreaders’ dance

And here is this year’s effort:

BBC Newsreaders’ dance 2008

Who knew Ben Brown had been hiding quite such a luxurious chest rug under that flak-jacket all these years?

For more see Oh dear. It’s the Children in Need newsreaders’ dance

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Oh dear. It’s the Children in Need newsreaders’ dance

If you’ve never wanted to see Jeremy Vine in fishnet stockings or Andrew Marr in hotpants (and I believe that includes most of the sane population), look away now:

A BBC Newsreaders’ Classic from 2002

Children in Need’s annual BBC telethon, hosted by Sir Terry Wogan, is in full swing.

That means that, shortly, the BBC Newsreaders will be too.

Among the most eagerly anticipated/dreaded of the celebrity sketches that make up the seven-hour televised appeal show is the Newsreaders’ Dance.

Traditionally, the usually straight-laced faces of BBC News don tights, sequins and spandex to arythmically gyrate in an effort to raise donations.

Sex Appeal

With the arrival of Natasha Kaplinksy and the rise of the so-called ‘autocuties’, the newsreaders’ dance took on a slightly sexier theme.

As well as the Bond sketch above, we’ve had Chicago (think Fiona Bruce in a corset) and a tribute to Bananarama.

This year though promises less flesh and more sparkles.

According to The Mail on Sunday, the skit will be Abba-themed in honour of the year’s blockbuster Mamma Mia!


Reaction on the paper’s website has been mixed.

Some are looking forward to the annual ‘musical’ interlude.

M T Hatcher from Canley, West Midlands said:

You have to give credit to the newsreaders. Every year they make themselves look like utter clowns for the benefit of others. If only more people were as charitable and selflessly spirited as these people.

Others,though, think there are more useful ways the stars could get involved.

Andrew Paton from Bearsden in Glasgow commented:

Oh God!!! it’s that time of year again….Please girls just donate some of your huge salaries to the kids and put it away……



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MPs should spend more time in front of the dispatch box, not the gogglebox

Photo - Helen CattThe Culture Secretary, Andy Burnham, has today spoken out against the eviction of Laura White from last week’s X Factor.

The 21 year old singer from Bolton had been tipped to make it all the way to the final.

This is a matter of enormous national importance, a travesty of justice that should not go uncorrected by the highest powers in the land.

And why has he stopped there? Where is his mighty stand against the towering wrong that put Rachel Stevens in the bottom two on Strictly Come Dancing?

Or his raging condemnation of the cruel regime of Dancing on Ice which imposes a four-hour daily workout routine on helpless Emmerdale Star Roxanne Pallet?

If not Burnham, what MP will stand up for the downtrodden rejects of reality TV?

Oh, sorry Lembit, I forgot about you.

Reality Politics

Actually, Burnham’s comment was a quip designed to make a point.

And a very good point it was too.

Saying that MPs are often tempted to talk about what they wanted to see on the small screen, he added:

“Mainly we should resist that temptation to comment on editorial matters.”

Here, here Minister.

Gordon Brown and David Cameron’s recent comments on the Ross-Brand-Sachs scandal were, in my view, totally out of place.

I would expect the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition to be concerning themselves with far weightier matters in a time of financial crisis.

Yes, the BBC is publicly funded but it is not a Government body and its editorial judgements should not be a matter for Parliament.

Getting involved just smacks of taking gratuitous pot shots or worse, an attempt at being ‘down with the people’ – a form of political ‘Dad-dancing’.


Unfortunately, Burnham’s excellent point got buried by his subsequent addition:

“Although the temptation is great in my case having seen the wonderful and talented Laura White very harshly voted off X Factor on Saturday.”

Cue such headlines as ‘Culture Secretary Andy Burnham Slams Laura White’s X Factor ejection’.

Oh dear. The age of irony is dead.

I’m a Politician, Get Me Out of Here

Still, it looks like there could soon be even more reason for the Rt Honorable members to be tuning in.

John Sergeant, the BBC’s erstwhile Political Correspondent, is still affably tangoing his way through Saturday nights with all the grace of a crippled rhino.

And today The Sun announced the new line-up for I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.

Wending their way toward a bush-tucker trial will be former Mayoral candidate Brian Paddick and ex UKIP MP Robert Kilroy-Silk.

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Breaking News: Now Jeremy Clarkson lands the BBC in hot water

Jeremy Clarkson, the presenter of Top Gear, has sparked nearly 200 complaints after making a joke about murdering prostitutes.

In a segment on lorry drivers, the 48 year old star said:

“This is a hard job and I’m not just saying that to win favour with lorry drivers, it’s a hard job. Change gear, change gear, change gear, check mirror, murder a prostitute, change gear, change gear, murder. That’s a lot of effort in a day.”

 The quip related to former lorry-driver Steve Wright, who was convicted of killing five sex workers in Ipswich in 2006.


Brian Tobin from the Iceni Project which helped some of the girls killed in Ipswich told PA that he found the comments “distasteful and insensitive”.

“Maybe people on the BBC should think before they say some of the things they keep on coming out with”, he added.

Lorry Drivers’ groups have also expressed outrage.

Kate Gibbs, a spokeswoman for the Road Haulage Association told The Telegraph:

“This is an unacceptable … slur on the character of lorry drivers and the character of the industry, and it is grossly unfair. It’s up to the BBC what action they take against Clarkson but we are certainly demanding an apology over these disgraceful comments.”

Some viewers have also posted comments on the show’s message board expressing their anger.

Most though have praised the programme, which was the first in the new series.


The incident is likely to lead to further questioning of the BBC’s editorial standards.

It comes just days after Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand were suspended from Radio 2 for  a prank phone call to Andrew Sachs.

Like Brand’s Radio 2 show, Top Gear is pre-recorded.

The BBC have issued a statement saying:

“The vast majority of Top Gear viewers have clear expectations of Jeremy Clarkson’s long-established and frequently provocative on-screen persona. This particular reference was used to comically exaggerate and make ridiculous an unfair urban myth about the world of lorry driving, and was not intended to cause offence.”

Ofcom has also received complaints about the broadcast and are deciding whether or not to investigate.


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Is Dawn Porter the real Bridget Jones?

For those of you who have not yet discovered Dawn Porter, you are missing out.

Especially if you are a bloke, my boyfriend helpfully (and suicidally) informs me.

To explain: Dawn is a method journalist. Or, as I like to think of her, a method girlnalist.

Her approach is to take a topic, usually of particular interest to young women, and live it wholeheartedly.

Size Zero

The first time I ever saw her was in a documentary called ‘Super Slim Me’ in which she was challenged to go from a Size 12 (UK size) to a Size 4 (the much-hyped Size Zero in the US).

And boy did she do it, taking the viewer every step of the way from depression to a slimming addiction.


What I like most about Dawn is her wholehearted willingness to engage with anyone and her total lack of guile.

Take her documentary on polygamy this week, for example.

It was surprisingly warm and showed a human side of polygamy seldom seen. There was no attempt at underhand exposure just a genuine interest in what it’s like to live as a ‘plural wife’.

The standout section for me was her interview with the ‘first wife’ in the house, who had lived with her husband for 17 years before he married a second woman.

It was both frank, moving and was a whole new look at polygamy from inside.


She is also completely unthreatening, with her quirky fashion sense and wide-eyed childlike demeanour.

No wonder the polygamists let her in.

In fact, she is the embodiment of the ‘Bridget Jones’ school of journalism. (She even opened her latest series with “I have been single for 4 years”)

You can easily imagine her sliding down firemen’s poles or starting interviews with “So Eleanor, did you fancy Kafir the first time you saw him?”.


I also think Dawn Porter could be an answer to engaging young people in news issues.

She looks and sounds like every girl, she voices what everyone wants to know and is totally approachable.

Have a look at her blog where she dispenses fashion advice at the same time as promoting her new shows.

In fact Dawn Porter has pulled off a rare feat: men slightly fancy her and women genuinely like her.

With Dawn leading the charge, the future of youth journalism looks deservedly rosy.

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Katona Catastrophe won’t kill Christmas for Iceland

Frozen food chain Iceland has announced it will still run a series of Christmas ads featuring Kerry Katona, despite her disastrous appearance on This Morning.

Not that the firm aren’t worried about the effect it could have on their image.

As Katona’s publicist, Max Clifford, explained to The Telegraph :

“Iceland are worried because she is supposed to be this happy capable young mum and the interview today doesn’t give that perception.”

Hmm, capable young mum?

All of the ads I’ve seen in the past seem to centre on the phenomenal lack of effort she needs, or wants, to put into feeding her on-screen family.

Frozen roast dinner in a box, anyone?

It’s great news for Kerry, whom I can’t help but feel a bit sorry for this week. 

Still, I would imagine that the prospect of yet more ‘why bother with all that freshly-cooked food nonsense?’ messaging won’t fill Jamie Oliver (sainthood pending) with festive cheer.

Who knows? It might even drive him to impale himself on a Turkey Twizzler…

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