If you’re a TV geek of a certain disposition, you know that sinking feeling when you pop your latest DVD purchase in, sit back… and watch as rights issues tear your programme apart.
Sometimes footage isn’t cut, but the music is replaced, giving scenes a whole different feel. Amongst many other music edits, Series 1, Episode 4 of Life on Mars gets rid of “Wild Horses” on the DVD release, and Skins cut – of all things – Lily Allen’s “The Fear” from Series 3, “Pandora” (and from one of my favourite scenes of the series, to boot). Other times, whole chunks of an episode are cut entirely: Episode 6 of Filthy, Rich & Catflap includes a section where Richie sings a spirited rendition of “Consider Yourself” which is gone from all DVD releases.1 Worse still is the Casualty Series 1 episode “Teeny Poppers”, which has a storyline about a man dressed as Spider-Man. It couldn’t be cleared, so a full six minutes was lopped out the episode for commercial release.
Worst of all are the edits where you don’t even know what has been cut. On DVD, the Hi-de-Hi! episode “A Matter of Conscience” ends with a big, emotional (and very well done) speech by Peggy… followed by an extremely nasty edit which takes you right out of the show. And I have no idea what has been actually cut, not having been able to see the original.
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■ Posted 13th August 2014 @ 1pm in Comedy, Television. No Comments Yet.
The Brittas Empire: “Curse of the Tiger Women”
Written by: Ian Davidson and Peter Vincent
Produced by: Mike Stephens
Directed by: Christine Gernon
TX: 24th February 1997
This is the story of one of my least favourite endings to a sitcom ever. But to figure out what went wrong, we need to skip backwards three years…
In 1994, The Brittas Empire had a pretty incredible run. No less than seventeen episodes were broadcast1, across two series – and amongst those seventeen were some of the show’s very best episodes. Examples include “High Noon”, where the leisure centre is blown up on a sitcom budget (and largely convincingly, to boot); the audacious “The Last Day”, where they kill Brittas off, send him to heaven, and then resurrect him during his burial; and “Not A Good Day”, where… they chain Sebastian Coe to a railing and watch him suffer for half an hour.
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■ Posted 7th August 2014 @ 6pm in Best Of, Comedy, Television. No Comments Yet.
“This package was very tongue-in-cheek, with lyrics that were often near-parodies of what country songs were about back then. The challenge was to be right on the borderline, so that the stations wouldn’t know (but we did!)”
- Jon Wolfert, President of JAM Creative Productions
Despite me spending far too much of my time listening to radio jingles, there is always something new to discover – the “new” often being several decades old. The above, “Country JAM” by JAM Creative Productions in 1975 (kindly uploaded by Tracey Carmen) is one of them – and it’s one of the most entertaining jingle demos I’ve ever heard.
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■ Posted 3rd August 2014 @ 2pm in Jingles, Radio. No Comments Yet.
The above (rather dusty) button is in the TX suite for Channel 5 – referred to as ‘Take Next’. When pressed, it simply stops the current on-air event, and goes to the next event in the channel playlist. Its most common use is for going to ad breaks in live shows – and I had many a sweaty finger poised over it during Big Brother eviction nights – but it can also be used in an emergency, if your current on-air event has problems, and you need to move on.
I think, at over three months, Dirty Feed has been stuck on the same event for quite long enough now.
Let’s press it, shall we?
■ Posted 25th July 2014 @ 6am in Meta. No Comments Yet.
So, the BBC has an interview with Ricky Gervais.
It’s about the second series of his “sitcom” Derek – and if you think I’m being mean with the scare quotes, Gervais himself invites them in the interview. Those who know me may be absolutely astounded to know that I have an awful lot of issues with what he says. But let’s skip past all the disability stuff, and just focus on the bit where he insults 50% of the population instead:
“The comic is keen to get under the skin of those “real” people – and one of his favourite themes is ‘men acting childishly’, which he describes as ‘my weakness’.
‘They just should know better, men don’t grow up – that’s always the theme I’ve had, women as adults and men as boys. Women don’t act like that! Proper stupidity is fascinating.’”
Really? Women don’t act like that? Bollocks. Utter horseshit. Some of the most fun times in my life have been spent with women behaving absolutely ridiculously.1. I can’t think of a more boring way to write female characters than “women as adults”. Not allowing women to be silly is not only a fairly fundamental flaw when it comes to writing comedy, but it makes you wonder exactly how Gervais sees the world.
It all reminds me of the very weakest parts of Men Behaving Badly. Gary and Tony get to do all the stupid fun stuff, and then we cut back to Dorothy and Deborah being sensible and tedious. The best moments were when Nye realised the women could be ridiculous too, and that just didn’t happen often enough.
If you want a sitcom that’s an antidote to all this crap, may I recommend Mom? Two lead female characters, doing things that are as stupid and as idiotic and as hilarious as can be. Real characters, not “sensible women” ciphers.
It’s not just how I like my comedy. It’s how people are.
■ Posted 15th April 2014 @ 9am in Comedy, Television. 1 Comment.
The other day, I did a post about how much I loved a series of promos Channel 5 showed last year.1 It reminded me of the above: a promo that – as far as I’m aware – Channel 5 never actually broadcast.
It’s hardly surprising, really. I loved the Ask an Aussie promos because they were perfectly targeted and entertaining in their own right. The above promo cross-promotes – of all things – The Walking Dead and… The Wright Stuff. It’s one of the most entertaining TV promos I’ve ever seen… but how the bloody hell would you schedule it? The tone is entirely unsuitable for daytime, but it doesn’t really make that much sense to promote a daytime talk show late at night either.
But then, that’s the fun. The total incongruity of it all. Any promo which ends with Matthew Wright surrounded by a horde of killer zombies has to be worth something. (It has some particularly good sound design, too.) Just try to ignore the fact that – as with a lot of their US dramas – Channel 5 went on to drop The Walking Dead from its schedule. Ahem.
Fun fact: the breakdown loop that features during the promo is the actual breakdown loop Channel 5 uses if there is a problem, and the announcer is one of the actual Channel 5 continuity announcers. A bit of artistic licence is used for how quickly that announcement would make it to air, mind…
■ Posted 30th March 2014 @ 7pm in Television. 1 Comment.
Here’s something I doubt many people reading this site will have seen: a Channel 5 filler from 2013 called Ask an Aussie.1 (There’s also a shorter version on YouTube, which has worse picture quality but includes some funny sections the above version lacks.)
For a start, this wins points simply for being a specially-shot promo, rather than just being a montage of clips stuck together or using EPK material. I don’t wish to denigrate the art of putting together promos using show clips too much; done well they can be absolutely incredible. But some of my favourite promos have come from using specially-shot material, and it just doesn’t happen enough these days for drama and comedy. Maybe the trailer for Psycho is the most famous example, but what sitcom wouldn’t benefit from something like this? Or this? It’s a shame so many programmes rely on just clip-based trailers these days.
OK, so maybe this promo isn’t quite in the same league as those examples. But it’s still lots of fun, and rather more effort than most people would expect Channel 5 to go to.2 What I especially love about it is that it does something else that’s not done enough these days: it ties the whole channel together. Of course it’s ostensibly promoting the channel’s two big Australian soaps, Home & Away and Neighbours. But it also manages to beautifully incorporate loads of other Channel 5 shows: Robson’s Extreme Fishing Challenge, Cowboy Traders, Benidorm ER, Eddie Stobart. A proper, Channel 5 brand trailer… without just sticking together clips from a load of shows with a Channel 5 logo slapped on the end.
Of course, the intention with this this is all about building brand loyalty with the channel, etc, etc, etc. Crucially, though, the makers of the promo don’t forget that in order for this to work, it has to be entertaining in its own right. As all the best adverts are. Three minutes of fun, which also does its intended job at the same time.
Something original, that grabs your attention, with actual effort put into it, and is entertaining at the same time? I wish more TV promos were made this way.
■ Posted 26th March 2014 @ 8pm in Television. 2 Comments.
It’s 1969, and America’s ABC FM group needs some new jingles.
“I conferred with Harry Sosnik who was the director of music at ABC, and he said: ‘You know, what we could do is do our own jingle package in London. You know, we might get some cool British sounds and since that seems to be a big part of the rock scene…’ So we packed up, went over to London, went to Marble Arch studio and had a big huge orchestra there all ready that Harry had arranged for, and then we started auditioning lead singers to do the jingles. And this young fella comes in with tattered clothes, an audition disc and we put it on the turntable, played it, and boy, he sounded pretty good…”
— Allen Shaw, head of ABC FM group, 1969
The name of that singer? The answer may interest you, even if you’re not that into jingles. Take a listen to this. Or just look at the filename, of course, but that’s not half as much fun.
(All courtesy of a certain Mr. Jon Wolfert, who originally posted it on JingleMad. There’s some more background information over there, for those interested.)
■ Posted 8th March 2014 @ 4pm in Jingles, Radio. No Comments Yet.
From the series of “articles” which brought you the programme leaflets for The Brittas Empire, Every Silver Lining, and new Yes Prime Minister, comes this: the last episode in the series of the ITV revival of Birds of a Feather, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”.
RX: 24th November 2013, Studio 2, The London Studios.
TX: 6th March 2014, ITV, 8:30pm.
As I was at the recording of the episode, I can let you into a little secret – they shot the last scene of the episode a number of different ways:
- Firstly, as broadcast, with Sharon and Tracey just sitting on the sofa realising Dorien is at the door
- Secondly, with Tracey getting up, opening the door, and Dorien just standing outside.
- Thirdly, with Tracey answering the door, Dorien stepping in, and them both hugging… to the audience going “Ahhhhhhh”.
Bearing in mind the episode was already too over-sentimental and syrupy at times, you can imagine what I thought of that last ending. (For the record, I also predicted they’d use the ending as broadcast.) Also worthy of note: the episode as we saw recorded didn’t have the final outside shot with everyone saying goodnight. Do I spy a last-minute fix in the edit, perhaps?
For the truly anal amongst you, at this session they also re-recorded the first scene of Episode 2, where Sharon sits down with a nice cup of hot chocolate and is interrupted by the phone. (Who knows what ludicrous catastrophe made the first version unusable?) They also recorded a version with her scraping shavings of Dairy Milk onto the top of it, but used a second take which didn’t include this. Why not impress your friends with this fascinating piece of trivia?
Anyway, I’m always interested in these programme leaflets, so if you have any hanging around, please scan them in and stick them up somewhere. I’ll give you a great big girly kiss on the bottom.
■ Posted 6th March 2014 @ 9pm in Comedy, Television. No Comments Yet.