All entries for October 2008

October 31, 2008

Another reason why I love being a Brit

Yep, spreadable bacon. And just to reassure you even more, it’s 100% meat-free!

Sadly only available in the U.S.. And long may that continue.

October 30, 2008

Who's next in the Tardis?

So who should fill the Doctor’s shoes now David Tennant’s revealed he’s leaving? Here’s my choices…

Julian Rhind Tutt
Julian Rhind-Tutt
Last seen as a baddie in Merlin, he’s probably better known from Green Wing. Importantly, he also went to Warwick University, which has to be a plus. He’s probably got the right balance of experience and ‘up-and-coming’ required for the role, but maybe he’d make a better bad-guy?

Chiwetel Ejiofor
Chiwetel Ejiofor
He ticks the Shakespeare box, he’s dressed in drag in Kinky Boots, and he’s starred opposite Russell Crowe and Denzel Washingston in American Gangster. Maybe that makes him too big a ‘star’ now. But he’s probably one of the best British actors to have emerged in the last five years, and he’s got the acting range to make the Daleks weep themselves to death.

Hans Matheson
Hans Matheson
Propelled to fame by the 2002 production of Doctor Zhivago, could he be right for Doctor Who as well? He’s been a bit quiet until a stand-out performance in the recent BBC drama Tess of the D’Urbervilles, but has the ‘look’. Like David Tennant, he’s also Scottish.

Henry Ian Cusick
Henry Ian Cusick
“See you in another life, brother” – or perhaps another dimension in space and time? Another Scot, he’s actually half-Peruvian. Better known as Lost’s Desmond, I think he’d be the ideal choice. He looks particularly dashing without all the island-swept hair. Dominic Monaghan, a.k.a. Charlie, would have to be his companion. One problem though – he’s tied into filming in Hawaii until early 2010, which probably rules him out.

David Morrissey
David Morrissey
But the universe seems to be pointing towards this man. Brilliant in State of Play alongside John Simm and Bill Nighy, he’s also starred in Derailed. His career nearly took that path after a role in Basic Instinct 2, but he seems to be okay. He’s in the forthcoming Christmas special of Doctor Who, which happens to be titled The Next Doctor, playing a character who claims to be… The Doctor.

October 29, 2008

Race for 2008: Is tonight when the tide turns?

Thank goodness for our election laws.

Tonight, Barack Obama will straddle three national TV networks to tell the American people what he will do for them.

It’s an interesting idea, but could it spectacularly backfire?

The backlash has already begun, with Obama’s ten-year-old daughter Malia. She asked her mum: “Are you going to interrupt my TV?”. She was reassured the broadcast wouldn’t be going out on the Disney Channel.

But it will be going out on Fox, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, Univision, BET and TV One.

Fox has had to push back a major sporting fixture to avoid a clash with the Obamathon.

He’s also appearing on tonight’s The Daily Show – an appearance I’ll definitely be checking tomorrow on More4 – as well as doing several big interviews over the next couple of days.

Obama isn’t so much going for blanket coverage, as suffocation.

There’s a real danger that the 30-minute broadcast will come across as arrogant.

McCain’s already jumped on it, saying: “No one will delay the World Series with an infomercial when I’m president”.

The piece is apparently high on ‘Americana’ – flags, strings and Presidential imagery.

But why’s he spending $6m on broadcasting it when it’d still get millions of views if he stuck it on YouTube?

The polls are apparently beginning to tighten – could one last burst of arrogance pop the bubble?

(He’s already joked about his face being on Mount Rushmore!)

If you're alive today, it's because this man spared you

Jack Bauer fans click here

Love the last line.

Swearing on TV

What exactly is the problem with Sachsgate – the abusive message left on Andrew Sachs’ answerphone, or the use of the ‘F’ word on a public service radio station?

If it’s the latter, then there’s a big debate to be had.

Swearing on TV (and actually not radio, so much) has exploded over the past few years.

The Brand/Ross affair went out at night on a radio station listened to almost exclusively by adults.

On the other hand, Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food programme was jam-packed with f-words, c-words and other verbal vomit.

For a programme that’s trying to appeal to as many people as possible – families especially – how is that a good idea?

I think the 9pm watershed should be scrapped – swearing, offensive behaviour, sex, drugs and alcohol should be shown or not shown depending on who the audience really is, not just when the programme’s shown.

Ministry of Food was the sort of programme that should have been played in schools – with the kind of language that Channel 4 left in, it never will be.


Listening to BBC Radio 5 Live, it’s interesting how people who support Brand and Ross are flooding out of the woodwork now they’ve been suspended. I’m on their side, I have to say.

Race for 2008: Is the media rooting for Obama?

The Republicans have been facing an uphill battle ever since George W. Bush won the 2004 election.

The media hunt as a pack, and the collective pendulum has been swinging towards the Democrats for the last two years.

I might have called it just a little bit wrong when I said of Joe Biden: “[calling Obama ‘clean’ will] probably be his only notable contribution to the campaign”, but I wasn’t alone when I predicted whoever won the Democrat primary would take the White House.

But the ease with which Obama has got this far is starting to worry people.

Michael Malone writes that as a journalist, he’s ashamed of the bias shown towards Obama.

While the media has gone through Sarah Palin’s bins, trashed John McCain’s wife Cindy and given anything John’s said little serious attention, Obama and Biden have had it easy.

Malone says it’s not because of journalists, but because their editors have only been selecting – and commissioning – stories which help smooth the wheels of the Obama campaign, and perpetuate the narrative that appeals most.Obama worship


The media pack loves a good story. America’s first mixed-race President is an incredible one, which everyone (including the British media) have got caught up in. This is only the biggest, most expensive, most anticipated election in decades because of Barack Obama’s colour.

There’s also a slightly more sinister side to this. McCain dying in office would be an enormous story. Obama dying in office would make the death of Princess Diana look like a footnote in history.

No matter what happens, an Obama presidency will bring with it more drama than President Bartlet managed in seven seasons of The West Wing.

A changed dynamic in Congress also appeals to their instincts. It’ll give them a common enemy in just a few months, and a filibuster-proof 60 seats for the Democrats in the Senate means the effective opposition isn’t the Republicans, but the media.

Put simply, if Obama wins next week, it’s the end of business as usual.

And that’s why virtually every newshound is rooting for him.

News coverage of George Bush – in fact his lame duck status – has come about because the media got bored with him. The war in Iraq isn’t working. The war in Iraq isn’t working. The war in Iraq isn’t working. Say it several times, and people get bored of that story. You can change Iraq for ‘financial stimulus package’, ‘healthcare’ or really any other Bush policy, and it becomes tiresome pretty quickly. News coverage of the White House has been minimal since early 2007, when the race for 2008 really began.

The narrative of the past six years has been full of failure. Obama might not have intended to woo the media with it when he came up with his slogan, but change is exactly what they want, never mind the electorate.

The bias in the coverage of this election looks more than likely to help bring that change about.

> Politico in the States defends itself against pro-Obama bias

October 28, 2008

Positively daft

This is Commander Ali Dizaei. He’s the President of the National Black Police Association. And today he called for positive discrimination to boost the number of black police officers.

This is dangerous ground – he admitted his comments could cause division among white officers.

He said that extremism called for the “right people” to be fast-tracked into the job.

But if a serious argument is going to be had about this issue, then Mr Dizaei is not the best person to start it. He’s currently suspended from the Met Police. In fact, he’s being investigated on three separate counts of misconduct.

Shouldn’t he be quiet for a while, rather than stoke up an issue which he admits is going to divide the force he works for?

Should Brand and Ross be sacked?


Well, sort of no.

Brand and RossThe ill-advised broadcast of rude messages left on Andrew Sachs’ answer machine was the fault of the programme’s producers, not its presenters.

The faceless people will probably get the boot.

But Sachs-gate is about more than all of that really.

The whole story has become a media circus (the lead story on yesterday’s PM for goodness sake) because no-one’s sure why these two presenters are on Radio 2 in the first place.

If Chris Moyles had done this on Radio 1, it would have been shrugged off and forgotten about within a day or two, with no real suggestion of sackings.

But Radio 2 is supposed to be the more mature sibling. This incident just proved that the pair are in the wrong place – any non-Daily Mail reader who heard the show would have found it to be pretty entertaining, despite the occasionally offensive content (which was actually no worse than a typical episode of Have I Got News For You).

They shouldn’t be sacked – they should be given a pay cut and put somewhere else.

They’re too old for Radio 1 (which already has an ‘age’ problem – it attracts too many parents), so maybe they should become the main attractions on the already edgy 6Music?

RSS comes of age

My RSS reader became much more useful yesterday.

The Guardian became the first major newspaper in the world to include its full articles in RSS feeds.

Sounds technical, but what it means is you can read the whole paper without going anywhere near the paper – and for free.

The best bit is the ability to filter things out. My blog reader is now getting updated any time Simon Hoggart (RSS) writes one of his brilliant parliamentary sketches. It gets George Monbiot’s (RSS) environmental polemics, and it gets Charlie Brooker’s (RSS) screenwipes and rants. You can also filter by subject.

I suspect this is unlikely to make The Guardian much money from advertising. Instead, I think they’re probably doing this to boost their international standing. It’s always been the pioneer among newspapers online, although I think others will be reluctant to follow suit on this one.

October 27, 2008

Guess who's back…

The blogosphere can breathe a sigh of relief.

363 days since my last entry, I’ve returned.

Where have I been? Well, busy, basically. I’ve been the News Editor at a radio station in Hampshire for about six months, and now fate has ejected me from commercial radio and into the scary world of self-employment.

The blog will do pretty much what it always has done – served as a receptacle for my musings on politics, the media and anything else that’s annoyed me.

I’m not promising to solve the global economic crisis that the world has found itself in during my absence, but I might at least be able to put some of into perspective, sometimes through the medium of The X Factor, sometimes through a misconceived idea of what constitutes ‘common sense’.

Many days have gone by over the past year when I’ve thought “I wish I could blog about that”.

Those days are over.

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