Monday, September 22, 2014

Any good ?

There may well be more women presenting and co-presenting on BBC local radio breakfast shows. But the judges in Auntie's internal awards remain fearless when it comes to judging named local radio presenters. 12 men play 3 women in the Gillard nominations this year.

Best Breakfast Programme
BBC Radio Leeds: Liz Green
BBC Radio Sheffield: Toby Foster
BBC Three Counties Radio: Iain Lee

Best Programme Presenter
BBC Radio Derby: Sally Pepper
BBC Radio Northampton: Bernie Keith
BBC Three Counties Radio and BBC WM: Iain Lee

Journalist of the Year
BBC Radio Leeds: Tracey Gee
BBC Tees: Andy Bell
BBC Radio Derby: Chris Doidge

Best Mid-morning
BBC Radio Gloucestershire: Chris Baxter
BBC Radio Sheffield: Rony Robinson
BBC Three Counties Radio: Jonathan Vernon Smith

The Ultimate Hot Seat
BBC Radio Merseyside: Roger Phillips
BBC Radio Sheffield: Rony Robinson
BBC Three Counties Radio: Jonathan Vernon-Smith

Case study

Tony Maddox of CNN on what he calls the network's  "evolving thinking" on re-broadcasting (or not) of ISIS videos.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Eventi in Inglese

Alan thinking, spotted by Vice
earlier this month
The BBC's Creative Director Alan Yentob is in Turin this Monday afternoon, giving an illustrated lecture on "Creativity and Innovation" as part of the Prix Italia. If you want to see what clips he chooses, the event is being streamed somewhere on RAI's very confusing website, live from the RAI Museum of TV and Radio.

The Prix Italia gets two Creative Directors from the BBC this year; Simon Elmes, big radio 4 doc cheese, is on one of the judging panels. Also on a panel is Janet Lee, editor of The Culture Show, previously with Imagine.


Steve Hewlett in The Guardian on Friday had a thumb-sucking piece on the BBC, and mused idly at the end on the prospects for a federal BBC, in response to devo max everywhere else.

I hope this doesn't revive the daft debate about a "Scottish Six". Interestingly, the overnight audience figures for results day show that, despite the Yes campaign's bitterness about BBC coverage, Auntie was the tv source of choice.  The BBC1 Six O'Clock News attracted 381k viewers north of the border, compared with STV's 289k for Scotland Tonight; the Reporting Scotland Referendum special that followed on the BBC hit 420k. At 10pm, the BBC News was watched by 361k in Scotland, with 111k opting for ITV News. At 10.30pm, a second Reporting Scotland referendum special attracted 251k, compared with 75k for the Scotland Tonight special opposite. The BBC Alba figures are, as ever, unknown to the public.

A federal BBC would require real network commissioning power to move out of London. In radio, 5Live is run from Salford, but a suprising amount of its indie choices are London firms. In tv, through Greg Dyke, Mark Thompson and Tony Hall, moves to send BBC3 to Salford have been blocked, and soon, subject to Rona, there's going to be little left to send north. The BBC may be making more drama in Wales, but the commissioning decisions are made on the 6th Floor of Broadcasting House, and nearby restaurants. Arts may be a Scotland production responsibility, but the Yentob Brompton is rarely, if ever, seen on the cycle paths leading to Pacific Quay.

At the edges, a boost for the budgets of the 6.30pm regional news shows might be a good early gesture...


Rachel Johnson, writing in the Mail on Sunday, seems to think that Jeremy Paxman and Russell Brand will be re-united by Channel 4 for a series in the run-up to next year's General Election.

This may prove compensation to Brand for getting the elbow from J Goldsmith, but I'm not sure what comfort it brings to Paxo, who's recently been judging poetry competitions.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Proper Suffolk bor

Roger Wright, former Controller of BBC3 and The Proms, has been getting used to his new life as Chief Executive of Aldeburgh Music; this week, speech day at Woodbridge School.

The publicity photo from the team at Aldeburgh issued this month sets rather high expectations - the new boy, top, and Festival founder below, in the fields in front of Snape Maltings.

Meanwhile, six months after Roger's resignation (on the eve of the elevation of Bob Shennan to BBC Director of Music), there's no news of a replacement, despite the endeavours of headhunters Saxton Bampfylde.

Baking powder

Boomers finished last night with 2.85m watching - a 14.4% share of the available audience. Still it was top dog starting at 9pm; Piers Morgan's Life Stories with Bear Grylls got 2.45m, and was beaten by crumb-catching Great British Bake Off - An Extra Slice on BBC2, with 2.57m.

Memory game

In the Indie, John Walsh writes entertainingly about Andrew Marr's book launch this week at No 10. He also reveals that guests at Downing Street's best address are invited to leave their mobile phones in an open wooden set of pigeon holes, before moving towards canapes on the upper floors. This requires guests to remember one number til the end of the event.

In the lobby, we gathered around the mobile-phone cupboard. The BBC’s creative director, Alan Yentob, couldn’t find his mobile. He’d forgotten the number of his pigeonhole. He pulled out one phone after another, hoping to identify his, without luck. What could he do? He could hardly examine all 100 devices in 100 holes. Ed Victor, super-agent to the stars, came to his aid. He pulled out his mobile, dialled Yentob’s number (which of course was in his contacts list). The missing phone shrilled; its light bounced with life. All was well. Could you ask for a more charming symbol of the British establishment helping its members out ?

Friday, September 19, 2014


The Government's digital chief Mike Bracken has told Computer Weekly that he'd like to move away from the so-called "tower model" of procuring new systems. This is where IT requirements are broken down into small components, each bought separately from specialist suppliers, and then integrated, either by an in-house team or a third-party supplier.

Bracken says the better solution is guaranteed interoperability between the components, reducing the need for new integration when you change one bit of computer infrastructure.

This will interest the BBC's money-minder Anne Bulford, presiding over the labour-intensive Project Aurora, specifying all future BBC IT requirements under, yes, a "tower model"....

Decision time

In the tv referendum contest, the BBC's London machine delivered an expensive and fairly slick night of coverage, whilst smaller rivals caught much more of the energy and emotion that has characterised this joyous/anxious exercise in democracy.

The graphic design team chose green for yes and red for no, then presumably went to some hotel disco, and decided to up the colours into highlighter-pen Pantone variants, matching the fluorescent tubes around DJ Huw's turntable desk. Dancing Jeremy Vine, ideal for the lead in Golum The Musical, then took blocks of these colours into an Only Connect wall, and tried to unscramble them in increasingly bizarre ways.  In the wide open spaces of Pacific Quay, however, there was no drum and bass backing track - and the whole exercise felt terribly quiet and inward-looking. Huw needs to stop saying "give us a sense of" when forming questions. Sarah Smith, as local expert, improved through the night, but there were few Robert McKenzie/David Butler factoids about each individual declaration, and you felt Sarah and Nick Robinson were sort of guessing why the No vote was so solid in various areas, rather giving informed comment. Andrew Neil gave real information in his short contributions from London, but was oddly hunched in a primary school chair, and lacking l.e.d. lighting. The odd moment of passion came from Hardeep Singh Kohli, for the disappointed and suspicious Yes camp.

Psephologist John Curtice, never a disco dresser, was tucked away in some dim backstage hub, and asked to comment, as, at 5.13am, the BBC 'called it' for No. Over his shoulder, you could spot shirt-sleeved Director of News James Harding and Director General Lord Hall, wearing headphones and no doubt being enormously useful. Let's hope both had retired to the bacon-butty area when, shortly afterwards, the London team missed the Edinburgh result live, as Jeremy was throwing shapes in the chill-out room.

Sky News spent nothing on sets - Adam Boulton was on a shelf at the Ingliston counting centre, with computers on a camping table, and reporters were out and about. It was rough and ready, but you felt closer to the people who had travelled to be 'there' for a real result. There was a baptism of fire for Faisal Islam at the Edinburgh count, but we did hear different voices, as the BBC rota-ed through usual suspects. And the graphics people chose Saltire blue and white for yes, inverted for no, which was much less tiring on the eyes.

ITV carried the STV coverage, with Bernard Ponsonby at a very large IKEA trestle table, and Aasmah Mir and guests in the living room display area, sitting on SKOGABY two seat leather sofas (new lower price £350 each). Their added value was scrolling tweets from the celebrities still awake as the results came in.

I wasn't able to watch the BBC Scotland version, with Glenn Campbell. I wonder if they got the Edinburgh declaration....

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