Saturday, March 28, 2015

Brave faces

It may just be me, but both and seem to be be down. Other agencies are still selling tickets for Belfast, starting 22 May. is soldiering on, with this update....

The DG's statement confirmed that the BBC will work to renew Top Gear TV for 2016, and of course we'll bring you any news on that front as soon as we have it. Hall also stated that the BBC will look into how it can put out the remaining programmes from the current series.

In the meantime, will continue to bring you the sharpest, funniest automotive coverage, the biggest exclusives and the oddest road trips. Right now, there's more astonishing stuff going on in the world of cars than ever before, and we reckon you deserve to know about it. 

That isn't to underestimate the incalculable contribution of JC to making Top Gear what it is. He's a big, big hole to fill, and the team you've trusted to make the world's greatest motoring show will be figuring out over the coming months exactly how to do that. 

And, while we're here, we'd also like to take this chance to give a shout out to our colleagues in Top Gear TV's brilliant production team, who are unquestionably the most talented in the business. So go for it. The comments are open and we're listening.

Data mining

Congratulations to the Ripon Gazette, who've caught up with the news that Kath Viner, editor-to-be of The Guardian, did work experience with them. At least they've found a photo of her at Ripon Grammar School, where she was head girl.

Here's another line of research...

Friday, March 27, 2015


BBC News (and associated) leavers this week I've spotted.  Alan Dedicoat, David McNeil, Simon Waldman, Mark Doyle, Ailsa Auchnie, Neil Churchman, Charles Scanlon, Bernadette Kehoe, Nigel Margerison.

Let's hope the delivery of news from the new financial year doesn't miss wise heads with years of national and international experience.

Hell's Teeth

The Spectator says Ed Miliband has hired US presentation coach Michael Sheehan, long time favourite of the Democrats. This may explain last night's "Hell, yes...".

Here's a link to a Fox News feature on Sheehan from 2011.

The Paxman/Burley C4/Sky collaboration with Cameron and Milband attracted an average audience of 2,922k across both channels, plus 255K for the simulcast on the BBC News Channel, and was watched by more 16 to 34-year-olds than any other offering in the same time slot.


Bloodied but unbowed, BBC Creative Director and Mate of Jeremy Clarkson, Alan Yentob continues outreach work for C2, D, Es today. He's recording interviews for a Radio 4 programme to mark the centenary of the publication of T S Eliot's The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock, coming up in June. Always ahead of the game, Radio Four broadcasts the results on April 19th.

The poem is a perennial favourite of the attendant lord, who has measured out his life in lattes. The ever-helpful crib, Spark Notes, says "it is an examination of the tortured psyche of the prototypical modern man—overeducated, eloquent, neurotic, and emotionally stilted."

Here's John Lee Hooker's take.

All TALKing at once

Ofcom have awarded Sound Digital the new DAB multiplex. The consortium, amongst other things, promises to bring us TalkSPORT2, TalkBUSINESS and TalkRADIO, on top of TalkSPORT.

All this will be achieved without Kelvin MacKenzie, who says he was rebuffed by the TalkERS and went with the losing bid from Listen2Digital, offering SportsRadio with his old mucker Jason Bryant.

Interesting to note that the OFCOM committee deciding between the two rival bids was all-male and white, led by Deputy Chairman Tim Gardam, Principal of St Anne's Oxford. I suspect that sort of thing won't be the way for long, once new boss Sharon White gets her feet under the table. She started this week...

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Gearing up

Lawks. Last night's Newsnight attracted 830k viewers on BBC2 in the overnight ratings - a 7% share of the available audience at 10.30pm.

Was it the Top Gear phenomenon ? 13 minutes were devoted to lead item. Or was it some of Piers Morgan's 4.4m Twitter followers waiting for his non-appearance ?

Underling news

A technical rollercoaster of a Newsnight last night - Piers Morgan, booked to appear live from at LA (announced at 1400 GMT) spent an hour in a remote studio without making it to air. His non-appearance meant we got a little more than we could stand of BBC Creative Director Alan Yentob on Clarkson, after an expensive Steve Hewlett set-up film.

Yentob's people had first said no to to duty editor Neil Breakwell - he was busy. He'd done R4 twice - The Media Show and PM, separated by less than an hour, and had opined on C4 News. He was in the brochure for an evening party to mark 25 Years of BBC Films, being held in the Radio Theatre, part of the same building as Newsnight.

Alan enjoys the company and hospitality of film producers, and had changed to the dark grey suit from the light grey (for Wolseley lunch), but with the same trainers. On Newsnight he was wearing either a prototype BBC Fitness band, or something that entitled him to unlimited local wines and beers at the do. Or it could be a new personal body identity card; Alan's had "Don't you know who I am ?" problems with the BBC standard issue over the years.

Do sanctions against those who face allegations of bullying actually work ? Do they drive a change in attitudes to production staff ? Mark Lawson, who left Radio 4's Front Row last March "for personal reasons", but co-incident with an investigation by HR, shared his thoughts on the Clarkson affair with Radio Times. You get a flavour in this quote...

"It may be revealing of the priorities of the BBC that, while an American TV star was disciplined for a serious broadcast falsehood, the British telly celebrity was pulled off air for allegedly losing his rag with an underling getting his supper."

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Moving forward

Channel 4's right-on streak would probably shy away from instant re-employment of a puncher. ITV would like to step in, but might lose quite a bit of advertising from Peugeot and other manufacturers of reasonably-priced cars.

My money's on Channel 5 coming in with a global deal via new owners Viacom (who run MTV, and Comedy Central in the States, home of Jon Stewart's Daily Show until later this year). Clarkson, May and Hammond, plus Andy Wilman, are quite capable of further re-invention, and there are plenty of cheeky titles left - Second Gear, Stolen Gear, Low Gear, Wrong Gear, etc etc. On  that bombshell, as they say....

Jezzer minute

As Lord Hall borrowed from Lord Sugar, and fired Jeremy Clarkson "with regret", the late night schedule cries out for a Dara O'Briain special, with Jezzer's best bits and his take on Lord Hall's decision, plus audience voting. 

In odds and ends, did anyone notice that Lord Hall said Top Gear will be coming back "in 2016"  - a longer than normal hiatus between series ? Did anyone notice that the "tank" used to deliver the "Save Clarkson" petition to Broadcasting House was actually a Vickers Abbott Self-Propelled Gun ? 

Here's the start of my next photo-book, entitled "Where were you when Clarkson was sacked ?"

Other people who read this.......