Tuesday, 20 June 2017

UNtelevision - the show no-one dared make

Even back in 1990, I could tell that British TV was becoming ever blander, and turning its viewers' brains to mush.

So with my friend, Diane, I decided to do something about it. We created this pitch (below) for a new and very different kind of telly show, and sent it off to commissioning editors at Channel 4, and (I think) BBC2.

We hoped our idea would be picked up and the show would get made. At the time, I was the 'outspoken' TV critic for ITV's ORACLE Teletext service. Sadly, our idea for a show called UNtelevision never got turned into reality. 

Instead UK telly continued its decline into cultural cack and moron fodder such as X Factor and Britain's Got Talent, and endless dumb-ass cookery shows.

Shame. But do read our pitch below for UNtelevision. It should raise a few titters. And maybe such a show will get made one day. One day ... 

Introducing … UNtelevision

UNtelevision is the TV show for people who hate TV. Probably Britain’s biggest minority.


UNtelevision is TV with a sneering face. Two sneering faces, actually.

UNtelevision scorns tricksy graphics and fancy camera work. To be honest, it doesn’t much care for the visual at all. But it is well-written.

UNtelevision is basic. It doesn’t pose and it doesn’t offer a platform to poseurs. It despises most rock stars and all showbiz fluff-heads. It does not accept the premise that someone (however thick they might be) is a ‘celebrity’ ... just because they’ve appeared regularly on the telly!

So just what is UNtelevison?
It’s a weekly show, presented by Sam Brady and Diane McD, who aren’t exactly strangers to British TV but who feel it is suffering from terminal blandness.

Sam and Diane are young(ish), bitter and twisted. You’d be if you’d had their lives.

UNtelevision is anchored in their untidy ‘front parlour’. Their introductory chat on each show sets just the right tone of cynicism. These are the regular features of UNtelevision …

· GREEN – “live” from an endangered ancient wood in Sydenham, Sarf London, including a weekly visit to the home of Darren, Britain’s last surviving forest fairy. His mind, like his habitat, is heavily polluted.

· ISLINGTON BISTRO – we join Upper Street’s Sancerre set, who tell of the pain of inner city living in Thatcher’s Britain.

· YOU GOTTA HEAR THIS – an old fart insists you stay long enough to hear his all-time favourite LP track.

· TURN OFF – poisonous TV reviews by Sam and Diane.

· I WISH – the show’s totally straight and serious bit. Live from Wigan, from the traditional wish-making statue in the town’s park. Each week a notable person publicly makes a wish and explains why in a simple and moving ceremony.

· SHUT UP, SU POLLARD – the ultimate game show. Who can shut this woman up?

· Also, these occasional features – GET SEXY! …. NOT RICHARD AND JUDY … VALERIE SINGLETON SPEAKS.

For more Information contact Sam Brady (landline numbers supplied, no longer operable).


Sunday, 18 June 2017

Nothing is easy just now …


The fearful, heart-stopping image of smoke-shrouded burning tower against the blue summer sky in London; then tragedy, deep emotions, grief, community solidarity, and unbidden acts of kindness.

Then thoughts of social injustice, and justifiable anger, mixed in with huge stress and worry for the people caught up in the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Then irresponsible, opportunistic posturing by mainstream politicians (including Jeremy Corbyn and London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan).

Plus, what appeared to be an appalling lack of pastoral skill and human dignity from our Prime Minister Theresa May on her first visit to the scene.

Also, a lack of leadership and co-ordination, leading to chaos on the ground – where officials ought to have been providing constant reassurance, guidance, attention and care from the start of this tragedy.

And after all that came a very shouty demo, plus some depressing demonstrations of corporate blandness and ineffective PR training by emergency services spokespeople.

There are big questions to be answered about the tower’s recent cosmetic revamp. Why no sprinklers?  Were the fire alarms adequate? Why only one stairwell in and out? And the exterior cladding?  Did that help spread the inferno?

Of course, now we have a relentless targeting of the besieged Theresa May. She was under so much pressure already, with Brexit negotiations starting and her election gaffes.

A Christian pastor said he saw tears in her eyes when she talked, during a hastily-arranged private meeting at 10 Downing Street, to some of the victims of the fire.

So, were May’s tears those of compassion for people affected by the blaze? Or was she weeping for her own woes, as she faces widespread scorn and hatred among the public and the media, and the prospect of being forced from office by Machiavellian schemers in her government.

Perhaps both …

Nothing is easy in our country just now, but something is certainly wrong when a housing tower for poor and struggling people goes up in flames with such loss of life – and amid such opulence in the wealthiest borough in the mother city of the biggest empire in the history of our world.

I was glad to see the Queen struck the right healing note in her statement in which she drew attention to “a very sombre national mood”.

Referencing the recent terror attacks in Manchester and London as well as the Grenfell Tower fire, she said: “I have been profoundly struck by the immediate inclination of people throughout the country to offer comfort and support to those in desperate need.

“Put to the test, the United Kingdom has been resolute in the face of adversity. United in our sadness, we are equally determined, without fear or favour, to support all those rebuilding their lives so horribly affected by injury and loss.”

Amen to that, Your Majesty. Let’s say it again. Amen.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

A small break from Westminster politics? PLEASE!


Sky News and other broadcasters must be busting their budgets right now on fees for pundits - and on taxi fares to get them to the studios.

So many gobs-on-sticks are being invited in to give their views on the Westminster impasse and related political issues such as Brexit.

Nerds from think tanks, piss-poor columnists from ailing newspapers (yes, I’m  thinking particularly of you, Susie Boniface), and loads of failed politicians … they’re all there, droning on, making me feel short of oxygen.

Look, I know politics HAS become a bit more interesting in the wake of the referendum in which a modest majority voted for Brexit.

And the hung Parliament resulting from the recent General Election has certainly added to the intrigue and the emotional impact of politics.

But, actually, I was not personally impressed by the surge in support for Corbyn. He’s still a loser, unpatriotic and na├»ve. And the fact that he has a young fan-base is a negative thing, in my view.

I do feel sorry for Theresa May, who was herself politically inept in following silly guidance from her (now resigned) advisors Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, and in running a presidential-style campaign (very unBritish).

So now May’s trying to form and keep going a minority government by reaching an agreement with hugely intransigent, anti-gay Ulster unionists, while at the same time surviving a Machiavellian mega-bitch-fest underway among MPs of her own party.

Good luck with all that Theresa! It won’t work, of course. Soon there will be a putsch, or something approaching one in terms of rancour, and May will be finished.

Just for the moment, however, before any Tory leadership election can be arranged, it's right there should be a bit of a political lull, and a postponement of those talks on Brexit with the political and bureaucratic twonks in continental Europe.

And during this wee hiatus, I hope we can perhaps see some REAL news on Sky News and other networks – instead of the endless political ‘analysis’.

I certainly don’t want to hear young Owen Jones offering any more pearls of his self-proclaimed political wisdom – that’s for sure.