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Category: Media

On a (very) small example of why the British written media is a cesspool of lazy propaganda…

Who would have thought that a footballers religious views would be noteworthy of a story? Well today four of our newspapers decided that it was. The Sun, the Daily Mirror, the Daily Express and the Daily Mail all wrote articles about how new Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku couldn’t accept a Man of the Match award because of his religion. You see the Belgian is a ‘devout Muslim’ and therefore ‘unable to pose with alcoholic gifts’.

Two things. Firstly, why would this ever be a news story of any interest to anyone let alone worth all four newspapers written specific articles on it. Maybe they know any story on Manchester United and football will get a few clicks, which is always good for advertising and those all important ad rates. Maybe they felt it was important to educate their readers on why this happened as many had been confused. Maybe they just thought it was time for someone to tell it how it is and make a noble point about religion and how it ruins everything. Or maybe, just maybe, they are lazy fuckwits who want to inflame religious tension. Who knows eh?

Secondly, one teeny tiny issue with the story. It is a load of bollocks. Lukaku is actually a devout Catholic. The Sun themselves actually wrote a story about it in 2014 when the striker went on a trip to Lourdes and posted about it on Instagram. The article entitled Luk-ing to God is still available for all to read on the world wide interweb. Anyone who has ever watched the front man score will have seen he does the Christian symbol of the cross when celebrating. So why on Earth did these newspapers all write inaccurate articles about his religious faith?

It is either a genuine case of someone informed a journalist inaccurately of what happened and a case of Chinese whispers spread like wild fire throughout the media covering the event and no-one thought about fact-checking. Either that or someone heard the story, thought it would play into the readership of said publications and they all ran with it thinking it would be a nice little story about religion and football that wouldn’t ever make them look like idiots.

At the time of writing the articles are still live on three of the four websites. The Sun have already removed it and 301ed the article with the new URL including the words ‘legal removal’ but the Daily Mirror, Daily Express and Daily Mail are all still happily living with their respective pieces even despite the quite scathing story in the Independent showing up the four newspapers for writing outright lies. This isn’t fake news because that term has been watered down and is now a punchline. This is just an outright lie that isn’t even a story if it were true but the lie interest some of the readers and further inflame religious tensions to a small degree.

I know this is only a tiny story and not really of any importance but it is a great example of how spreading a small lie can go unchecked unless more vigilant journalists and media publications call them out of it. The fact The Sun have already removed the offending piece says a lot. Unless people call bullshit when bullshit is spread then it leaves us in a state where the media can control the news and that is not somewhere we’d ever want to be.

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On a Lib Dem saying something offensive and dumb, a petty Tory and local journalism…

Sometimes I come across a story where literally everyone involved in it comes out badly. Today I saw such a story that the more I looked into it, the worse the secondary characters looked. sadly for the main characters, they just never looked good.

For those who don’t know anything about the story to which I can referring then you can read the write-up in the Portsmouth News. The long and short of it is a ‘rising star’ in the Lib Dems apparently said something stupid whilst drunk, well lets be fair, something beyond stupid, something flat out disgusting. She should learn to deal with alcohol better, tell her friends not to post her stupid remarks on social media or to be frank have less vile words spilling from her mouth. The words she used were, ‘joining the Tories is like joining IS.’ Yikes. You can’t defend it so I won’t but lets look at the rest of the players in this story.

She had a friend who shared the comments online, first things first, don’t share such crap. It is wrong but will also come back to bite you in the bum and make you look stupid. It isn’t a bit of fun. In this era where all our communications on social media can be scrutinised with a click of a button, learn to be careful about what you share online. If people (and I actually know activists from other parties have done so looking for dirt) went through my timeline on twitter or my Facebook books or my instagram pictures, whatever, they would find that I love Nadiya from GBBO maybe a little bit too much, I love George from Masterchef Australia maybe a little bit too much. I talk a lot of sport and talk a lot of politics but plain offensive things, no siree bob, a) it isn’t on and b) your online identity is rightly or wrongly a part of you. So don’t share things that will get you into trouble.

So he has some fault for sharing the comment (or should I say alleged comment Mr. Lawyer?) but whatever. Next up is the Tory councillor in Portsmouth who saw it and instead of looking at it and thinking, ‘oh what a foolish young woman’ instead decided to tweet the local media alerting them to the Facebook status. I mean for real. Cllr. New, you are a grown man, act your fucking age (yes I said fucking, I’d edgy and uncouth like that – big up my Portsmouth upbringing under a Conservative council – or I should say Havant Council if I’m being strictly accurate). Some 17 or 18 year-old girl apparently said something fucking stupid whilst drunk, someone who heard it thought it was either funny or true so posted it online and the adult response is to go crying to the local media? Fucking hell.

So Cllr. New has some blame and then the Pompey News itself. Oh I love the Pompey News. I have had several friends pass through those doors. It was my hometown newspaper but what on Earth are you doing giving this story the time of day? The person who said it doesn’t live in Portsmouth, the person who shared it doesn’t live in Portsmouth (although either studies or studied in Pompey). So where is the Pompey angle? No fewer than three Tory councillors in Portsmouth are quoted in the story about it. I mean come on. I know local newspapers are dying and the written media as a whole is on life support but when you are calling up or e-mailing multiple Tory councillors for a comment on a story about a drunk girls comments who doesn’t live in the area then boy that is a tenuous link for a story.

So I think a lot of people come out badly in this. Both young Lib Dems need to learn not to say (or be amused by) offensive stuff (let alone let it be shared on social media). I suppose in the old days (of you know – ten years ago) a person says something to friends when drunk and no-one else hears of it. This desire to share everything on social media is something people need to curtail (and I say that as an avid social media user). The Tory councillor who squinnyed like a fucking baby (see I am from Pompey – I used the word squinny) needs to grow the fuck up and if the local newspaper is going to react to every story where someone says something offensive when drunk then the Pompey News is going to be the main reason for the rainforests to die out.

Just maddening. The lot of it.

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On BT Sport blowing Sky out of the water for Ashes Cricket in 2017/2018

I wrote this blog but by the time I went to publish it, Charles Sale had revised the fee to £80million over five years – I thought I’d leave in the original figure in the blog post just to show how much Charles Sale changed his report after publication. My fury is not quelled by the amount being a lot less but the money certainly isn’t completely insane. If indeed Sky walked away from the rights at that figure then fuck me did they overspend for the EPL and have dropped a right bollock on this one.

I was going to have a bath. Well I was thinking about it anyway. A way to soothe my aching limbs on a Sunday evening but thought I’d watch the end of the baseball first. My phone beeps, I wander over to it and I see a tweet with a link, so I walk over to my PC to investigate and the story is how BT Sport have reportedly won the rights to show all matches from Cricket Australia in a five-year deal worth – now don’t fall over or faint here – £70million per year. That is £350million over the next five years.

Now whilst this deal is for 32 test matches, for us in reality it is all about five, the next Ashes series down under. For the past two plus decades we’ve had all live England Test matches overseas on Sky Sports and whilst some of those matches haven’t been a full Sky Sports production, they have all had some of the Sky guys in the commentary box.

The thing is, Sky’s cricket coverage is the best coverage of any sport in the UK. I can’t really write that as fact but is merely my opinion – and indeed that of many avid sport watchers. The mix of voices in the commentary box is first rate. I have written about it before in a blog entitled, Why mess with nigh on perfection? and I very much stick by what I wrote in that blog post.

The joy of the Sky box isn’t just in the commentary and the presenting but also the chats during rain delays and the like. The level of voice they have is just second to none. From Michael Atherton to Nasser Hussein to Bumble to Lord Gower to Sir Ian Botham and of course to Michael Holding. Michael Holding is quite simply one of those people you wish you could just sit down with in a pub for a drink and a chat because he is quite amazing and Michael Atherton is the next Richie Benaud, he is that good. They get the right voices from overseas (both Ian Smith and Ricky Ponting just knocked it out of the ball park this summer) and to be frank, there is no way on Earth BT could even get close to the quality of coverage Sky do and do you know why we know this?

Because they cover football these days and there is no-one out there saying they want to see more Jake Humphrey presenting or need to listen to more Michael Owen butcher another co-commentary. Sky again outshine BT in football coverage and it is no surprise, they have been the best for a number of years so they know what they are doing. Yes sometimes a change can revolutionise a sports coverage (see Cricket, BBC to Channel Four – another thing I wrote about) but at best all this deal will do is mean for one tour BT will have to put together a second rate team to cover these matches as al the top dogs are signed up to Sky and indeed will stay with Sky considering all the other matches bar one England series are still with the corporation. Although it could mean that Geoffrey Boycott could return to live TV commentary but that is a long ways away.

As you can tell I’m not happy but it isn’t just the fact that BT will be showing the Ashes in 2017/2018 but look at the money they are paying. I have a friend who always says, ‘well its not my money so who cares?’ but as customers we should care. £70million a year (again if the report is true – it is Charles Sale) is just insane. Flat out insane for what they would be getting. The previous deal was for £50million over four years and this is £350million over five years. Cricket rights have not gone up that much and yes whilst I agree The Big Bash is worth a few quid, it is paltry compared to the Test matches and if BT really think that the value of these rights have gone up by 600% in four years well then, those that said Sky overpaid for EPL rights must be looking at BT and thinking there was an ink issue with the fax offer sheet.

The loser in all of this is firstly the cricket fan, a) they’ll lose the best coverage of the sport for five extremely important Test matches and b) will have to shell out yet another subscription fee to watch cricket but there is also c) the average BT customer who will likely have these exorbitant rights fees passed on to them with rises in their subscription costs, even if they don’t want to watch cricket.

We’ll see if this story is true but if it is, the next Ashes series might just be the host broadcaster coverage (and I don’t hate Channel Nine’s coverage but lets be honest, it is not what it once was with the passing of Greig, Benaud and the retirement of Lawry) but they aren’t Sky and of course if BT put together their own list of broadcasters then expect the 2017/2018 Ashes series to have commentary from the likes of Matthew Hoggard, Darren Gough and who knows, maybe they can get more value out of Michael Owen and put him in for a few stints just to brighten all our nights and early mornings in three winters’ time.

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On Alex Dyke’s comments on breastfeeding…

Sometimes folks you have to laugh because if you didn’t then you might cry. Alex Dyke is a virtual nobody to anyone outside of the Isle of Wight and latterly the wider BBC Radio Solent region. He fronted the call-in show on Isle of Wight Radio from 1991 until his dismissal from the station in late 2008 and spent the next short while if I remember correctly working on a web based radio service on the IoW before uprooting to the USA for a bit and returning to the UK and being a staple on BBC Radio Solent.

Alex Dyke and the BBC was never a marriage made in heaven. Dyke has always courted controversy and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing when you want to be a talk in host. Those that are the most confrontational and walk the thin line between good taste and being a douche often do well because they try to get people riled up enough to call in. This leads to people saying things that they either believe in but aren’t the widespread viewpoint or they may even say things they don’t believe in to get a reaction. Sometimes they go too far but many times a talk in host will say things that they don’t really think.

I have no insight into what Alex Dyke’s real views on breastfeeding are, I have met Alex and indeed back in the day I even spent a short stint at Isle of Wight Radio when Alex was presenting there. If you told me that his Neanderthal approach to breastfeeding were his real viewpoints then I wouldn’t be surprised one jot but on the flip side, if you told me that his views were just to inflame the listeners and piss people off enough to get them talking about him and his radio show then that also wouldn’t shock me one jot.

The fact that his comments made to a wider audience such as The Last Leg on Channel 4 have only done one thing though and that isn’t bring attention to his comments but bring attention to him. I doubt he is that upset by this. I doubt he is that upset by this at all. His only apology was to those who felt offended by his comments, he didn’t apologise for making said comments. Looking at his twitter feed he seems to be enjoying the limelight.

These were some of his comments on the issue:

“Couldn’t mums just stay at home and do it? I’m not offended by it, I’m just made to feel uncomfortable about it.

“You wouldn’t get ‘yummy mummies’… breastfeeding in public. Those kind of women wouldn’t do it because they’re very image-conscious and they know it’s not a great look.”
Breastfeeding mother

“I blame the Earth mothers, you know the ones I mean, the ones with the moustaches, the ones who work in libraries, the ones who wear hessian, the ones they’re always on Radio 4 on Women’s Hour, they are always pushing the boundaries and making us feel uncomfortable.

“Breastfeeding is unnatural. It’s the kind of thing that should be done in a quiet, private nursery.

“It was OK in the Stone Age when we knew no better, when people didn’t have their own teeth… but now I just think a public area is not the place for it and fellas don’t like it.”

Now whilst some of these comments are ridiculous, the final sentence says a great deal. People didn’t have teeth in the stone age…yeah ok then Alex…he clearly either knows naff all about evolution or is just talking out of his rear one to try and inflame the listeners to ring up his show so they could call him names and point out what shit he was peddling, yet again the classic signs of an attention whore or what we’d more commonly call them – radio talk-in presenters.

Whether Alex Dyke really believes his comments isn’t really the issue, what is, is the fact that the media are playing right into his hands by keeping him in the news. What have we noticed about the likes of Katie Hopkins? Those that pedal bullshit will always find a home within some spectrum of the media. Alex Dyke’s name is now being bandied about in the media and he now has more klout than he ever has done before.

His name is known beyond the confines of the BBC Radio Solent region and should the station not bring him back after his suspension then I’m sure they’ll be larger commercial stations lining up sign him up. If the BBC do bring him back then he’ll return to record audiences as people listen to those they disagree with just as much (or even more so) than those they agree with.

All we are doing by keeping talking about him (and I myself in this blog am guilty of this – but no-one reads this so who cares) is fanning the flames of Alex Dyke. We can all call him names and point out how stupid and moronic the things he said are but we don’t need to, it is obvious they are stupid and moronic, by doing so all we are doing is play into his hands.

I have no idea if this was a calculated move by the presenter but even if it wasn’t, he couldn’t have bought personal publicity like this and in the end it’ll be him laughing al the way to either larger RAJAR ratings or a larger bank balance or possibly both. Sometimes it is better to ignore those who say stupid stuff because at some point they’ll either stop saying stupid stuff or just go away completely.

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On the Independent’s response to Clarkson, Hammond and May’s move to Amazon Video…

Oh the Independent, why do you have to be so foolish? The Indy is renowned for being a pretty good newspaper that doesn’t let personal opinions get in the way of a story. Well today after it was announced that Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May would be taking their talents to Amazon Prime on a three-series contract, the aforementioned newspaper decided that the appropriate story to cover such an event was entitled, How to cancel Amazon Prime: after Top Gear hiring, how to leave premium service – the piece was penned (well typed) by their technology reporter Andrew Griffin.

Reading the piece and you get the sense that Mr. Griffin isn’t a fan of the boys and he of course is fully entitled to that opinion, heck many many people share his opinion. I know I think Jeremy is a bit of a douche but I also quite like Top Gear and think the three of them make a very good light entertainment show. I know I’ve written about it before that whilst I was disappointed in the BBC letting Clarkson go, I fully understood it and believed they didn’t really have much of a choice.

I wasn’t shocked that there was a clear market for the trios talents and whilst I am personally disappointed with their move (as I don’t have Amazon Prime) and had hoped they would emerge on netflix (as I have that) I certainly don’t think the lead story on the matter (and indeed several hours on) it would still be in a prime position on the Independent’s home page was about how you can cancel Amazon Prime.

If a newspaper really believes one of the top stories of the day is about how to unsubscribe from a TV streaming service then I think that newspaper needs to take a long hard look at itself in the mirror. The fact there are essentially no positive comments on the piece says a great deal.

Still you wonder why they posted this story, was the writer asked to do it or did he do so on his own volition? Well when the writer has written on the issue before stating, If anyone thinks Jeremy Clarkson is anything but a racist bully then that is a bad opinion and you are probably a bad person. (I know this is a late response but I didn’t realise that people — actual human beings — thought it was ok to punch a man because he didn’t bring you a cooked steak.) I think we ascertain what the writers thinks and he is using his position at a newspaper to write an Anti-Clarkson story. Man isn’t that the dream of all journalists to use their position to push their own personal opinions on the readers?

Look he may not like Clarkson, that is a pretty fair position to be in but honestly is one of the biggest stories in the world today really about how you can cancel from a service? For those who can’t be bothered to read the piece but want to know how to end a subscription to Amazon Prime well I can help, you just click on ‘End Membership’ on the ‘Manage Prime Membership’ screen. I know, shocking eh? It is that level of insight that makes the Independent one of the leading media outlets in this country…

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On Chris Evans and Top Gear…

In one of the biggest shocks in the history of the world, the BBC in one last desperate bid to keep one of the their biggest assets relevant have turned to the man they always turn to Chris Evans. He is like the John Reid of the BBC, parachuted in when he’s widely not wanted to try and fix things.

His denial saying that him taking over the show was, ‘100% not going to happen’ is shall we say rather hilarious considering he’s been announced as the main presenter and indeed will be the executive producer of the show, which actually goes against the BBC’s own rules following the Jonathan Ross/Russell Brand incident in 2009, but still the BBC will bend rules for Chris Evans because they are desperate.

The reason they are desperate is because quite simply, they had a really big asset, not only in terms of prestige and world wide appeal but also in terms of straight cash homie. You see that is the real reason why they don’t want to let Top Gear die, they want the cash.

The problem they have is whilst they own the intellectual rights to the show, the show was successful because of the presenting trio and Andy Wilman. All four of these people will not be working on the show going forward. So the BBC have to start from the bare bones (a good old fashioned Harry Redknapp reference there) and build from the ground up.

I see this situation as very similar to what I think about Page 3. The people who don’t like Page 3 are unlikely to buy The Sun even if they stop putting tits in their newspaper. Many of those who didn’t watch Top Gear who are happy Clarkson has gone are saying the right things about now watching Top Gear but most won’t. They are just glad that someone they didn’t like is off of the BBC.

Who presents a TV show does influence whether or not people watch it. For example I have point blankly refused to watch The One Show since they shafted Adrian Chiles to crowbar Chris Evans into the show for reasons that were never that obvious. It felt as though they thought Evans would bring in a new audience on the Friday edition of the show or maybe he’d attract bigger stars to appear so out went Chiles. If it ain’t broke then don’t fix it is an old motto but it works.

I know Jeremy Clarkson had to go and don’t have an issue with how the BBC dealt with the situation but instead of trying to keep Top Gear alive, they should have put it on hiatus. This now smells to me like it is a case of arrogance from the BBC who believe that they can carry on with a whole new presenting team like nothing has happened. Making it seem like people watched because of the production values and the camaraderie between the three wasn’t the reason we all watched. It was fun. It was stupid. It was Last of the Summer Wine for slightly younger people with cars who wanted easy TV on a Sunday evening.

The news that they’ll hold open auditions for new presenters is absolutely hilarious. Talk about a desperate way to keep the show in the news for a while. The likelihood of the BBC hiring unknowns to help front one of the (at the time of writing) biggest shows in the world is just mind-boggling. Also Chris and the exec controller of BBC2 are already disagreeing over whether a woman will be part of the new presenting line-up with Chris saying it is ‘100% going to happen’ – yeah like Chris’s ‘100%’ things mean jack – and the exec controller saying that it isn’t written in stone although they would like to have more female presence on the show.

Another issue is Chris Evans hosts the BBC Radio 2 breakfast show and therefore will not be able to go overseas on shoots that often unless he leaves that gig, which he’s not going to do. This means that Top Gear will not be having many overseas trips any more and it will be very British based. This goes against the global appeal of the show. This means that they’ll be unable to recreate some of the best bits of the show. Another knock on whatever this new incarnation of the show will be.

Lastly the biggest problem the show has is the Clarkson, Hammond and May haven’t gone and indeed seem extremely likely to present a new show together, most likely on netflix and the odds of the show being released on netflix at the same time as the next series of Top Gear would seem short to me. People will give the new Top Gear a shot I have no doubt but Clarkson, Hammond and May will still be the people the audience flocks to.

Chris Evans will now be the highest paid person at the BBC for his various gigs. Not bad for someone who has had a rather tempestuous relationship with the corporation in the past. I actually don’t mind Chris Evans per se but when someone says that something will, ‘100% not happen’ and then it does, I just look at them and think they are a bald faced liar. His commitment to the BBC Radio 2 breakfast show means that he’ll be unable to put in the time to Top Gear like the former team could and the idea that the show can carry on being a global success just doesn’t add up.

I wish him well but as long as the most recent incarnation is firmly in our memories and indeed should as expected the former presenting team are doing a similar show for another outlet – Top Gear as we all know and loved is dead. Can Evans’ magic recreate another version of the show that attracts the demographic that the BBC want (because it is the demographic that sells well to overseas broadcasters) then I doubt it somewhat. Top Gear will never be the same again and many will rejoice, the problem is most of those who will rejoice won’t watch it anyway and that is Evans’ and the BBC’s main problem and one they re unlikely to be able to solve.

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On John Oliver v Jack Warner & FIFA… (Videos)

In the past few months John Oliver has become quite the household name. It seems a long time since he was on the early series of Mock the Week and he has disappeared off my radar. I didn’t realise that he had gone to The Daily Show but one day a few months back I was stunned when Tony Kornheiser spoke about John Oliver during an episode of PTI and I did some research – he had become a pretty big star in the US.

Since then I have been an avid watcher of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO (broadcast in the UK on Sky Atlantic) and his work is truly first rate. To be named in Time’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world says something.

Still despite the fact that he lives and work in the USA, a country that traditionally doesn’t give two hoots about ‘soccer’ – his pieces on FIFA have been right up there amongst his very best and the past couple of weeks have been rather epic. Below I’ll embed all his FIFA related pieces if you haven’t seen any of them but they are truly first rate. John Oliver can be a huge star and his show is really making inroads and if you haven’t seen any of his work then YouTube his show – there is plenty of excellent comedy on a variety of subjects that is both funny but also shocking and thought provoking.

We start with his piece last year on the World Cup…

Then a quick news hit before the Presidential election…

Then a couple of weeks back after the arrests of seven FIFA executives and Sepp Blatter’s re-election…

Then after Blatter resigned…

and later in the episode this…

Then of course The Mittens of Disapproval Are On – via T&T TV.

John Oliver – The Mittens Of Disapproval Are On by kzf1

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On Dion Dublin and Homes Under The Hammer…

There are a few things that bind students, stay at home parents, the unemployed and those who work from home. One of those is that at 10AM on BBC1, more often than not you’ll see two excitable faces shows us around three homes that have been sold at auction.

Homes Under The Hammer has been steered through the choppy waters on daytime TV successfully by just two on-screen presenters since 2003 (although for one series there was an alternative set of presenters, Jasmine Birtles and Marc Woodward) but apart from that one season, it has been the job of Lucy Alexander and Martin Roberts to front the show. They are both fantastic. Like seriously brilliant.

They know what daytime TV watchers want and they deliver it in buckets and spades. We know about Lucy’s love of original features, if a property has a fireplace or a Victorian ceiling rose then we know she’ll be a happy bunny. Martin too has his own quirks but their enthusiasm and charm makes this show stand out from the abundance of other property shows on the box.

The show is essentially as close to daytime TV perfection as you can get. Great presenters, pure cheese half the time with all the music puns throughout, something that can inspire people to try their hand at something and at the very least, it is just perfect TV to have on in the corner of the room when you are doing something else as you often look up and see a home and think ‘wow, that is beautiful’ and gets you thinking about your own home.

The show gets around a 30% share in its time slot for new episodes and has long been one of BBC daytimes most successful shows, so why did the powers that be decide to change the presenting line-up? Former footballer Dion Dublin has joined Lucy & Martin for this series and has already failed to impress. He’s wooden to camera and when he speaks there isn’t that sense of genuine excitement that exudes from the other two. Today he opened with a line about how Oldham was the birthplace of footballer Paul Scholes, who cares? Yes sometimes Lucy & Martin link a place to a person or to an event but when Dion relies on a football link, you just cringe.

He’s appeared in several episodes now and he still hasn’t found his feet. He may well get better but when you are the new kid on the block on a show with two extremely popular presenters and you are edging them out to some degree (mostly edging out Martin as he generally does two homes per episode with Lucy one although that isn’t a hard and fast rule and now in new episodes they do one each), but when you are marginalising popular people then you are always going to struggle.

The forums haven’t warmed to Dion Dublin as yet and most I’ve read think similar to me that why mess with a fantastic set up? I don’t know if Lucy or Martin wanted to scale down their operations for whatever reason but if they had, I still question why Dion Dublin was picked to be the right guy to join in? He just doesn’t fit in the style of the show of knowledge and excitement. You have to be over the top like Lucy & Martin can be, being stilted and wooden isn’t what Homes Under The Hammer is all about.

Dion has proved himself to be a solid (if unspectacular) football pundit, so far he’s proved himself to not even reach those heights on Monday-Friday at 10AM on BBC1…

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On being a liberal and not rejoicing at Jeremy Clarkson’s suspension…

Jeremy Clarkson is a sacking away from becoming the most valuable free agent in the history of UK television. Should the BBC bite the bullet and part ways with one of the three presenters of Top Gear then they will have struck a decisive blow for the majority of people that I follow on twitter. The outpouring of sheer delight has been overwhelming. I’m pretty sure the Pupil Premium didn’t get as much praise as Jeremy Clarkson’s suspension and that is because the biggest problem with liberals is that anything they don’t like, they believe that other people should not like as well. It is the most frustrating thing I’ve found with a lot of (predominately young) liberals. They are right. What they like is right. Anything else is wrong.

We don’t know the full story behind Jeremy’s suspension but we do know the BBC are in a very tight spot. They have a presenter who they can sack and move on from pretty easily. The problem is that all the talent that make one of their most popular shows worldwide will in all likelihood go with him.

My timeline is full of suggestions for who the BBC could use to replace Jeremy Clarkson but they have failed to grasp that should he leave, in all likelihood Richard Hammond and James May follow him out of the door. Andy Wilman most certainly would. This means that Top Gear would essentially cease to exist in its current form and I’ll tell you this, so many liberals would rejoice at this because it would mean more money for Doctor Who (well actually it wouldn’t as Top Gear earns the BBC an inordinate amount of money but still, facts…)

We aren’t that used to TV suspensions over here but I’m used to it as I watch a lot of American TV and ESPN dish out suspensions all the time to on screen talent, sometimes with no rhyme or reason. When a journalist (Keith Law) called out a pundit (Curt Schilling) on twitter for saying that creationism should be the only thing taught in school then yes, the journalist got suspended. When a presenter (Tony Kornheiser) mocked what a colleague was wearing on his radio show, then he got suspended.

Every time Bill Simmons makes a run at Roger Goodell (which happens all the time) then he gets suspended. Stephen A. Smith got suspended for his comments on domestic abuse and Keith Olbermann got suspended just a week or so ago for his attack on Penn State students for raising money for cancer research (yes this actually happened – a presenter attacked a school for raising money for cancer research). So on-air talent suspensions is nothing new. People go away for a while and come back. It is no big deal.

When it comes to Top Gear and the BBC though, the BBC have backed themselves into a corner. They desperately don’t want to sack Jeremy Clarkson. They know that his worth to the corporation is probably more than any single other individual they have. Should they get rid of him then they are walking away from the best part of £150million a year in profits. So that is a significant chunk of change. Yet if he was on his ‘final warning’ and he has indeed punched a producer then they have no choice. They have to be seen to do the right thing and watch Clarkson go to a rival network, create a similar show and make a tonne of money whilst they watch their biggest worldwide asset wither.

Zoe Williams in the Guardian has written an interesting piece on the subject. She says herself that she, ‘stayed up late last night trolling Jeremy Clarkson’ in writing the piece, like Jeremy Clarkson really cares about what someone who clearly doesn’t watch the show thinks about him but still. The long and short of it is basically she thinks Top Gear should be focused on car reviews and not light entertainment.

She obviously doesn’t remember why Top Gear disappeared from our screens in the first place or why nobody watches Fifth Gear but her piece is full of factual errors and shows that it is just an attack on someone she doesn’t like because she can. Living the dream. For example she attacks the show for being stuck in the past and not reviewing cars of the future, saying, ‘The coolest car in the world right now is the BMW i8, a part electric, part petrol dreamscape of silent majesty.’ She obviously didn’t watch Jeremy reviewing it and giving it the big thumbs up this season.

This though is typical. People will attack the show because they want it to be something different and they want different presenters because they think their version of Top Gear would be better. The problem with this point of view is that everyone’s tastes are different. I saw a well-known member of the liberal twitterati (basically those liberals who do considering themselves better than everyone else – heck there are lots out there) yesterday on twitter going on about how Sky didn’t understand her because they spent money on football. Well I’d argue that Sky aren’t catering their whole business plan to her (I mean how self-centred would you have to be to think that?) but also has she not noticed that Sky’s whole existence and business model is based around football? I mean it isn’t exactly a secret… Another member of this ilk tweeted about how he’d not seen anyone on his TL do anything but rejoice at Clarkson’s suspension and that it showed the quality of person that he followed. I mean really…

Sometimes people like things that you don’t, instead of changing that thing to suit you, maybe you should look elsewhere to find something that you like. I don’t like many TV shows but I don’t think, ‘well if they changed this, this and this about a show then I’d like it and if I like it then everyone else should.’ Liking Top Gear is something you whisper in hushed tones around some people. It isn’t clever enough and people who enjoy it are simply not smart enough to know any better. If they ran Top Gear it would be more informative and it will appeal to those people, the problem is the ratings would plummet and no-one would buy it overseas. It is a similar scenario to those people thinking The Sun should base its business model around those people who don’t (and would never) buy The Sun. Yeah, like that makes any sense…

I hope Jeremy Clarkson survives because I enjoy Top Gear. If he goes though he probably can’t complain should the rumours be correct. The thing is though he will be fine, he’ll get whatever he wants from ITV or Sky and all the Top Gear talent would follow him. He won’t disappear from our screens so victory would be hollow for those rejoicing in his demise. This isn’t Ron Atkinson folks, he won’t become persona non grata in the broadcast industry, the truth is it would be quite the opposite, he would be the biggest free agent to ever hit the marketplace and broadcasters would be crushing into other broadcasters’ lorries full of cash ready to back up and dump it on his front lawn. Jeremy Clarkson may survive at Top Gear, he may not but whatever happens he’ll certainly survive on TV and if he goes to a commercial station then he’ll arguably be a lot better off.

Top Gear isn’t popular because its about cars, its popular because of the three presenters and the back stage team who put together a show that has morphed into something far bigger than anyone could have predicted a decade or so ago. Still if he goes the outpouring of joy will be quite something and it’ll be chalked up as one for the good guys whereas in reality he’ll be relatively unscarred no matter how it plays out.

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On being a romantic at heart – a rare Take Me Out extra on Looci & Nick…

Every year I write a blog about the women of Take Me Out. It is a bit of fun that I do because it allows me to write a bit differently from my usual style. I like the show as it is a bit of Saturday night cheese.

Tonight whilst watching I saw Jonathan get a blackout. All thirty women turned off their light and he got no date. There was nothing wrong with him at all. He seemed like a nice guy, not unattractive, but yet all the women decided that didn’t want him. I planned on writing about that as people often ask me why I don’t apply to go on the show because I do the blog etc. and I always say the same thing – there is literally no way that I’d get a date because I’m not an attractive man, my VT introducing me would be, ‘well I’m a bit of boring sod who does naff all with his life but is content with things’ and yeah, couple that with this face *points to his face* oh and not to forget my lack of style, I’d do well to get through two rounds let alone three.

Still then things changed when the next guy came down the lift. Seemed like a nice chap, seemed like a regular sort, loved the fact he was just in his regular clothes and was just being who he was. So then we go through the VT and then Paddy speaks to one of the girls who has kept her light on and she is his ex. Boom. She kept her light on because he was and I quote ‘beautiful inside and out’ – she had dumped him a while ago and as we’d find out he was her last serious relationship. This was genuinely emotional. You could tell there was something still in the air between them. All the other girls bowed out gracefully to let Looci get a date with her ex apart from one girl, Elisha. I thought that was poor form. I said so on twitter. Weirdly she favourited that tweet.

So the guy (Nick) had the choice between his ex and another girl. There was zero doubt in anyone’s mind that he was going to pick Looci and indeed he did and they kissed and I jumped up and fist pumped in joy and I’m not going to lie, I welled up a little bit. These are two people I don’t know from Adam and I never will and yet I was rooting so hard for them to get together. You don’t go on a show like this and keep your light on if you see your ex if you don’t still have serious feelings for them.

If its an ex who is in the past you turn off your light, say you did but say he’s a great guy and anyone would lucky to go on a date with him and move on. She kept her light on. There was a serious chance of romance. Paddy even clearly welled up as he visibly wiped his eyes after they embraced (and seeing Claire – who is fast becoming a favourite – when I say fast – I mean she’s amazing – jumping up and down in sheer delight was just so so cool). It is just a TV show but it brought happiness into two people’s lives. Who knows if they got back together – I hope so that is for sure.

I turned over to watch on +1 just to watch it again and whilst we never saw who his ‘love at first light was’ – if you watch closely and see how to writes on Paddy’s pad, it does very much look as though he writes ‘Looci’ so yes. Just brilliant. Was genuinely happy. A friend said to me that I was a romantic at heart and that might be true (and a surprise to many) but I love happy endings. Like they make me happy that other people can be happy in this world full of horror that we all live in.

I also want to write a brief comment here on how to get a Valentine’s Day card from Looci. She is doing this to raise money for Yorkshire Cat Rescue. All she wants is for a donation of at least £5 within the UK and at least £10 internationally and she’ll send you a personalised Valentine’s Day card. It is for a good cause and you get to receive a Valentine’s Day card from a bloody gorgeous woman. In addition, she will have a half hour Skype date with whoever donates the most by the end of Valentine’s day, and she’ll send you an actual gift.

So to do this then please donate via this link and then send a screenshot of your donation to her e-mail address address along with your address and she’ll get this done for you. For this project her e-mail address is

It is all in a good cause so go on folks, donate to Yorkshire Cat Rescue, the more the merrier and you never know, you could have a Skype date with someone who may or may not have made you well up this evening (if you had a heart then you’ll have welled up). I hope she raises lots of money. As a cat person who has always said he wants a ginger kitten when I finally settle down and buy somewhere, cat rescue is in my eyes an extremely worthy charity to give a few notes too.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.