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On the ending of The Newsroom…

Oh man. A show with so much promise, some first rate actors, some interesting characters and a star writer, how on Earth could it end so limply? I loved the first season, I enjoyed the second season in the main and even season three started off well but the final three episodes just sucked.

Let me start at the killing of Charlie Skinner at the end of episode five of this season, why Sorkin, why? I know you’ve explained why but once more I ask, why Sorkin, why? The Newsroom revolved around Skinner and the acting masterclass that Sam Waterston put on. I loved him in Law & Order and loved him just as much as the bourbon drinking head honcho at ACN. He didn’t need to die and the way he killed him was just so mundane and didn’t give him the gravitas that he deserved if he was to meet his demise.

So the final episode explored some of the back stories that put the cast together, we’ve seen this before from Sorkin. At the start of season two of The West Wing we saw a wonderful two-parter (In the Shadow of Two Gunmen) that showed how everyone came together. This time though it didn’t set up a season, it ended a shows run and it didn’t actually add too much to the storyline. We knew Sloane was into Don before (‘You never asked me’) and we knew Mac was dealing with issues from Afghanistan. We find out that Jim has had a bad long-distance (45 mins away by car) relationship before (thus setting up the Jim/Maggie ending) and we find out that Charlie is a true gent who wants to do the news right (er…we knew this already) and that Will cares about ratings and what people thought about him (again we knew that already) so is all seriousness for all the flashbacks we learnt that Jim has had a bad history in semi long-distance relationships. So worth it.

This brings me on to the most disgraceful part of the episode, the return of Neal (seriously dude, spell your name right, like all good Neil’s). Neal missed most of the season hiding out in Venezuela after refusing to give up a source ad what does he get after his near two months on the run? It gets announced at Charlie’s wake that his plane has landed and he gets a cool shot at the ACN Digital guys but he gets zero interaction with the rest of the crew. No pats on the back, no-one asking him how he was, nothing. Now I’m guessing this has to do with actor Dev Patel working on other projects so they just tried to shoehorn him into the episode but come on, film at least one scene where people welcome him back for fucks sake. As much as the fact he spells his name with an a instead of an i pisses me off, I loved Neal nearly as much as I loved Charlie. He reminded me of me, if only I was better looking, had better morals, was smarter…well he doesn’t remind me of me as such but his name is similar and I liked him, ok?

Mac is pregnant. Who cares? Mac gets promoted to be President of ACN without even being asked, like, for reals? Any scene with Leona is great as Jane Fonda is great. Seriously someone create a spin-off show that is just Leona and Charlie (assuming he can be resurrected from the dead) drink bourbon and bitch about the world and I’d be all over that. As would everyone who watched The Newsroom.

So we get to the finale of the most painful romance in TV history, Jim and Maggie. Jim (with whom I actually do identify in many ways despite not even being remotely close to my name) realised that he was in love with Maggie still, despite going out with Hallie (who was wonderful, if you were to possibly draw up my ‘ideal’ woman in terms of the type of person with whom I think I’d fall for then it would be Hallie, ambitious, smart, beautiful, quick-witted, sorry I’m just imagining the make-up sex with her after a fight, I’m sensing it would be amazing but I digress). So Jim and Hallie end after he is a dick (see, I told you I could relate to him) but in part it is because deep down he’s remembered his feelings for Maggie. She is seeing someone else too but he’s super smart and realises very quickly that she is hung up on Jim.

This tawdry love affair reaches a climax on a plane where they share an albeit beautiful kiss, the head stroke and smile on Maggie’s face seemed genuine and lovely. At times I can at least see romance even if I’m seemingly incapable of portraying it in real life. She finally had the one she wanted. Fast forward three days and after three nights of sex, Jim recommends her for a field producers position in DC, meaning they would have to be in a LDR (see the flashbacks did have a very small point after all) but having overcome the lazy blonde stereotype that she was in season one and after the abomination of what they did to her character in season two, she had blossomed into what we saw, a confident, smart, young woman. Hurrah. Yet here we are with her all nervous about Jim trying to ship her out of town. They end this mini-fight with her asking why he was so sure that this LDR would work when the others hadn’t and he walks away saying, ‘because I wasn’t in love with them’ – nice. A good line finally. Sadly we all know that in reality Jim would be too much of a prick for it to last and Maggie would find someone better suited in DC but we can all pretend, right? This wasn’t Josh and Donna from TWW, that love story needed no coercion, it was natural and the audience could see it and yearned for it, this was just meh.

To round this all off we of course get to Will and Mac. Mac is Will’s one. Will doesn’t care about ratings and doesn’t care about being liked deep down, that is all a mask, all he cares about is Mac and how she sees him. Mac and Will were together before but she cheated on him and he couldn’t forgive her at that point and went into years of depression that his one could do that to him. She is brought back by Charlie because he knows that the only way to turn both the show and Will around is to make him care once more and the only way to do that is to bring her in. Fair enough. It works as a storyline and we saw Will’s evolution into the character we all loved. Mac however never truly developed and her happiness came from being with Will and making him into the best person he could be. Sweet yes, but again shows how Sorkin struggles with writing female characters.

Look, don’t get me wrong, overall I enjoyed the show and Charlie and Leona were insanely good characters. Will was developed well and all three actors (Waterston, Fonda, Daniels) were first rate. Sadly though for an ensemble cast, the rest of the characters were never truly developed and this held back the show from becoming what it could have been, the acting was great but the writing concentrated too much on the holier-than-thou attitude of Sorkin towards the media (which may or may not be unfair depending on your take of the current media output that we are subjected to) but that air of arrogance held back the development of the other characters and forced relationships that didn’t sit well with the audience. It could’ve been special and when they were given six more episodes to end things then everything was set up for an epic climax, instead we got an average episode then summed up the missed chance once more that this show was.

The Newsroom 2012-2014. Loved, then liked, then watched. Sadly it won’t be terribly missed.

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On my top ten Masterchef Australia contestants…

So season six is in the can for the UK audience after Brent lifted the trophy last Friday night. It was a welcome return for the show after a rather disappointing season five, where the producers casted based on personality over food and that led to a bunch of being average chefs getting on to the show.

So for fun (and for maybe the two people I know who watch MCA) – here is my list of my top ten favourite contestants, this isn’t to say the ten best contestants, but my personal ten favourites chefs based both on personality and cooking ability.

10) Andy Allen – Winner of season four. He was an average contestant, who could easily have gone early doors in week five when he and Sam were in the bottom two but the judges decided to send home neither in the elimination challenge in Tasmania. Was part of the Ben/Andy Bromance and his cooking about three to four weeks from the end really kicked on and in the final two weeks he won near enough every challenge. Nice guy and I was happy to see him win.

9) Hayden Quinn – Sixth in season three. Hayden was without a doubt one of the most popular contestants of all time on the show. The lifeguard from NSW was one of the first six through to the top 24 and he won the first challenge and backed that up with an immunity pin victory. Eminently likeable with a natural flair for cooking, he was always going to do well and fell just before finals week. Unsurprisingly was brought back for MCA All-Stars.

8) Brent Owens – Winner of season six. Brent, a bit like Andy was a journey contestant whose progression was clear to see as the competition went on. It looked unlikely he’d win at any point but as we whittled it down it was clear he had a chance. Arguably only Emelia was a better cook than him in this season but Brent was pretty sensational at Service Challenges and rarely got flustered. Another flat out likeable guy. Seems to be a pattern emerging but…

7) Claire Winton Burn – Third place in season two. Cold. If you were to describe her in one word, that would have been it. However she could really cook and seemed to take criticism well and learned from it. We have seen several ‘cold’ candidates in the show, Julia from S4, Emelia from S6, but I learned to root for all three as the show went on but Claire I liked from a long way out. I thought she was a fantastic cook who dished up some wonderful dishes.

6) Beau Cook – Eighth place in season four. When I was sorting out my list he wasn’t in it and then I sat here (or actually lay there, I was mentally doing this in bed last night) and I realised that there had not been a more fun contestant in the six years of the show. His dry wit was fantastic to see, although the way both he and Ben tried to throw themselves on the fire for Emma did bug me.

5) Peter Vickery – Ninth in season three. In the first episode of top 50, the judges gave dishes of the day to Kate, Michael, Alana and Peter. Even in the first episode, they may have found the four best cooks in the competition. Sadly for Peter his lack of self-confidence held him back at times and in his final elimination he was up against Kate tasked with making an apple pie. He had no chance although he did run her close. Great guy who I rooted for hard and when he was him v Kate I was so torn as they were my two favourites from that season.

4) Kylie Millar – Sixth in season four. Who couldn’t love Kylie? She was just flat out loveable and in the task when they were asked to cook with love and passion and it came out that she’d yet to be in a relationship, so hadn’t felt these emotions my heart broke just that little bit, I mean what on earth were the young men of NSW doing? Her pudding in the Masterchef magazine challenge was one of the most pornographic cakes that I have ever seen. She was just fantastic.

3) Marion Grasby – Ninth in season two. The biggest shock in MCA history. Marion quite simply was the best amateur chef ever to walk into the MCA kitchen. Not only was she a fantastic cook but also a great person, fun, always smiling. Like Hayden she was brought back for All-Stars like the top two in this list were. She also formed quite the double act with one other contestant who is still to appear on this list.

2) Kate Bracks – Winner of season three. I called Kate to win from the first episode. It may have had something to do with the fact she was attractive and ginger but also she served up a flatbread kofta that the judges raved about. In the first challenge in the top 24 she made a coffee cake that the judges were stunned by and she was terrific all the way through. Liked Kate a lot and she is still the only person I’ve tipped to win from top 24 who has done so.

1) Jonathan Daddia – Eighth place in season two. Quite simply…The Eliminator. The producers seemed to play up to Jonno as the bad boy of the bunch but he was very much hit or miss, he was great or he was terrible but most of all he was entertaining to watch. Eight times he survived elimination and it showed that when he was on, he could flat out cook. He and Marion were a fine double act, certainly in All Stars and there is on doubt whatsoever that Marion saying, ‘Jonno’ is etched on my memory.

I know no-one from S1 or S5 made this list, the reason is that Chris and Justine were in the mix but I wasn’t a huge fan of season one. Season five was just shocking and only Lynton and Rishi deserved really to even be thought about. Others who were in my thoughts for this list included from S2 Callum, from S3, Kumar, Ellie, Arena, Alana, from S4, Ben, Alice, Tregan and from S6, Emelia, Sarah and Kira.

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Sky Sports NFL Coverage 2014 – Once more stepping it up

The NFL season got underway the other night and tonight we are back with our usual Sunday night doubleheader. On Thursday Sky Sports showed us some of their plans for the 2014 season, the 20th that they have been coverage the league and I must say I’m quietly impressed with what they are doing. Here is an overview.

Firstly they are making their analysts more permanent. In recent years it has been Nick Halling and latterly Neil Reynolds being joined by a seemingly random cast of others. This year it will be Shaun Gayle joining the team until Thanksgiving whereupon he’ll be aside for Jeff Reinebold to take us the rest of the way.

Personally I like this set up as it gives the team more of a chance to gel and I wasn’t overly keen on the show being used as a tryout for former NFL players who wanted to get involved in broadcasting, Rocky Boiman (who sounds like Lisa’s character in The Simpsons when she was pretending to be a boy to do Maths at the boys half of Springfield Elementary) aside, I have not been impressed by any of these people and any set up that gives us more Jeff Reinebold is one that I can fully endorse. I think Jeff is by far and away the best analyst we’ve had on Sky Sports NFL coverage in the decade plus that I have been watching. He has a relaxed style but also has the technical nous to take us through the x’s and o’s so I’m happy.

Of course then there is big Cecil Martin. I know many of the more knowledgeable fans get annoyed by his antics but I like it. He’ll be around for the Wembley games this year so he is still involved. A Gayle-Reinebold-Martin monopoly in the analysts chair is a ok by me. I don’t know if they’ll be extra guest analysts but between those three they have a good solid team.

Neil Reynolds received a tonne of stick when I wrote the blog post about Nick Halling leaving the NFL team for the Boxing gig three years ago. The comments do not read well for Neil but my namesake isn’t half as bad as some of those comments say. Reynolds is a more than solid guy and if we all put up with Kevin Cadle’s presenting style then we can put up with Neil Reynolds.

The Red Zone is back on Sunday’s and they’ll show more highlights on the main channel as well as live look ins. For the Thursday night game, Sky will also show the CBS pre-game show, which will be something different. Like other Sky shows, they’ve also been given a ‘SkyPad’ aka a rather large touchscreen where Reynolds and the analyst can go through tactics and the like. Again Sky showing some decent investment in the NFL.

I don’t think the NFL brings too many subscriptions to the company but I do think it is a relatively inexpensive and popular filler for Sky. If the NFL does expand to London in terms of a full-time franchise based in the capital then it will be a very significant sport for TV companies over here. I think Sky do a very good job in terms of most sports and I think they treat NFL with more seriousness the more they cover the sport.

When you throw in what Channel 4 do with the Sunday Night Game then fans of the NFL in this country get a pretty good deal. Eurosport will show the Monday Night game against this year and that is a strange one for me but heck, it is live on TV. I think if my memory serves me right this is the last year of Sky’s three-year deal they signed in 2012 and that means the rights will be up over the summer and I have zero doubt BT Sport will make a play for them. As I said earlier, it isn’t a sport that brings in a tonne of subs but it will be a very nice addition to BT’s portfolio should they steal it and I suspect a key thing to keep for Sky Sports.

Personally I hope Sky’s long partnership with the NFL continues beyond this season but I think it is very much up for grabs. Sky are showing commitment to the sport with their coverage and I expect another good year this year both on the field of play and in the TV studio.

Lastly you can tweet the team here:

Kevin Cadle – @kevincadle
Neil Reynolds – – @neilreynoldsnfl
Shaun Gayle – @85worldchamps
Cecil Martin – @cecilmartin1
Jeff Reinebold – @jeff_reinebold
Sky Sports NFL Account – @skysportsnfl

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Andrew Strauss calls Kevin Pietersen a c*** on live TV but keeps his job – what bull

Oh an open microphone. Broadcasting is a strange beast. I have dabbled as many will know and whilst many may have sympathy for Andrew Strauss following events yesterday. I do not. For the record I am no big fan of Strauss but nor am I a big fan of KP. I don’t really have a horse in this race.

For those who don’t know what happened then here is the article from the Independent – Andrew Strauss ‘mortified’ and ‘profusely sorry’ after he calls Kevin Pietersen a ‘c**t’ live on air. The former England captain thought he was off air (Sky were on an ad break) but in fact they were still live in other parts of the world and decided it was a good time to call Kevin Pietersen the c-word whilst his microphone was on.

Sky quickly made an apology, tweeting the following, Earlier comments were made during a break of play which were heard overseas. We apologise for the language used and Strauss followed suit by stating I apologise unreservedly, particularly to Kevin Pietersen. I am mortified and profusely sorry.

Sources seem to suggest that this will be the end of the matter but that just rings hollow to me. I have been a staunch admirer of Sky’s cricket coverage for many many years. I genuinely think their team is the best in the sport and might well be the best in any sport I watch. They hired Andrew Strauss specifically because they wanted him, fresh out of the sport after his issues with Kevin Pietersen, to essentially give a good insight into the inner workings of the England dressing room. Sadly for them, all he’s done is not comment or criticise because he’s still mates with except everyone bar Kevin Pietersen, who he’s been happy to tear apart, this is unprofessional and poor broadcasting but it is still not an open personal attack, which now he has done.

If Sky really believed in their brand and product then they would fire him on the spot. In all fairness the fact they extended his original contract (which covered the two Ashes series last year according to reports at the time) seems highly questionable. His broadcasting talents are well below the standards of his fellow top tier of Sky cricket commentators. Strauss can’t hold a candle to the likes of Atherton, Holding, Bumble, Hussain, Warne, Gower and yes even Botham and his constant grumpiness that he’s watching cricket and not fishing. Strauss adds nothing to the team but yet he seems to be being molded for big things by the corporation.

He should be gone and even if they chose not to fire him, he should be taken out of the spotlight of their Test team sooner rather than later. The first test against India starts on Wednesday and if Strauss is involved then we’ll know what Sky think is more important, keeping Strauss happy or allowing personal vitriolic attacks on people. Andrew Strauss is perfectly entitled to his opinion on KP but he is not sitting around watching the game on his sofa with his mates, he’s being paid a good amount of money by a big company to professional broadcast.

If Sky won’t remove Strauss from the firing line then he should do it himself. Ask to be stepped down or offer his resignation. I doubt he’ll do either but Andrew Strauss has never come across as a man high on principles anyway. Many many people have been involved in many many broadcasts and knowing what you can and can’t say isn’t exactly rocket science. If there is a chance your microphone is on then it is best not to say anything that can get you into trouble. Strauss fell foul of this and because of what he said and who he said it about (given their history) then his position would seem to me to be untenable but Sky have a history of backing their people beyond where they should so come Wednesday I fully expect to see the previous England captain on my screen and it will push me further towards TMS even though I’d be loathed to not listen to Michael Atherton or Michael Holding, who are supreme.

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World Cup – The TV Battle – BBC v ITV

So far I have seen every minute of the World Cup bar a snooze during the first half of the Iran v Nigeria game yesterday. I also have read a lot of feedback on the presenters, pundits, commentators and co-commentators (otherwise known as summerisers to certain people who like a disparage me) so I thought I’d put my views forward for the seven people that might read this:


The BBC use a former Golden Boot winner, darling of English football, Walkers Crisps seller and all around Mr. Nice Guy. ITV use an overexcited 47 year-old Brummie. It really should be a slam dunk for the Beeb shouldn’t it? Well it isn’t. Gary has improved a lot since his shuttering start eons ago when he replaced Des Lynam as the host of BBC’s Football output.

There is nothing wrong with Gary but there is also a lot to say positively for Adrian (and indeed Matt Smith). Adrian’s style is certainly less relaxed than Gary’s but he certainly injects more of his personality. When they presented the pre-game show from the beach on Sunday afternoon, you saw Adrian in his absolute element and it was a thoroughly enjoyable pre-game.

Both the Beeb and ITV have more than competent front men. I have a feeling Adrian gets a lot of stick because a lot of people think that they can do better than him. Hosting live TV is not easy and I think he does an admirable job.


We’ll start with the cream of the crop – Thierry Henry and Lee Dixon. Henry has been the breath of fresh air that everyone expected him to be and shows why everyone is fighting over securing his services going forward. A Sky team of Neville, Carragher, Souness, Hoddle and Henry is pretty dreamy. Dixon is the class of the ITV field and we knew that going in once Roy Keane decided not to travel to Brazil.

Dixon anchors the ITV team and is the man who can put together some actual analysis and not just opinion. Something his fellow pundits seem to struggle with.

Away from the top pundits we have Rio Ferdinand who I’m just not warming to as a pundit, his defence of Wayne Rooney’s performance seemed to show that he is still too near to the team to be subjective. In what was a bizarro moment it was this exchange that shown Alan Shearer is not as awful as the popular opinion says. Shearer was adamant that Rooney has to get that effort on target in the second half and he wouldn’t let it go. Good for Alan.

Over on ITV we have Glenn Hoddle who has always been a more than solid pundit. I still don’t understand why he hasn’t gotten another crack at management – certainly at Spurs. Fabio Cannavaro seems to struggle speaking in English and Patrick Vieira is missing Roy Keane as they could have been a fiery pairing.

Of course there is also Ian Wright but he’s in the Robbie Savage mould of just being awful but keeps getting TV work. Robbie Savage had a stint at co-commentary last night and oy vey.


Guy Mowbray has been handed the gig as the top man at the Beeb again for this tournament but he is being dragged down by the choice of co-commentators he’s been stuck with. This is an issue across the BBC. Jonathan Pearce had an absolute stinker in the France game the other night getting all in a fluster regarding goal line technology. He needs to learn that silence is golden and a TV commentator doesn’t have to speak for every single second.

Over at ITV then Clive Tyldesley has been the top man since Brian Moore retired. There is nothing wrong with his commentary and he calls big moments well but I just yearn for Martin Tyler and/or Ian Darke who are both better but both commentating for non UK audiences once more this World Cup. ITV’s number two is the only one of these people that I have met during some work experience with 107.4 The Quay many moons ago – Sam Matterface. I still have very little idea how he rose from calling Portsmouth games on local radio to going to the World Cup as ITV’s #2 commentator but he has. He isn’t Jon Champion and he probably isn’t even Peter Drury but he isn’t horrific and is certainly better than Jonathan Pearce – although that isn’t saying much.


Phil Neville was given the chance to call England games after the auntie decided Mark Lawrenson was too dour for the top team. Then Phil Neville spoke and whilst what he said wasn’t actually that bad – the way he spoke was a real turn-off. The fact 445 people have complained to the BBC about him is a joke but it certainly wasn’t a great debut. Elsewhere the Beeb has Mark Lawrenson who is ok, Martin Known who certainly is not and the more than adequate Kevin Kilbane. They gave Robbie Savage a chance and er…yeah. I think the less said about that the better. Never again BBC. Never again.

ITV leads with Andy Townsend and whilst I think he gets a lot of very deserved stick, they might not have anyone better. They had Jim Beglin on staff for ages but got rid of him when he was in fact superior to Townsend and since then the likes of Clarke Carlisle have been given a chance to impress as they seem to really like the Matterface/Carlisle combination but I just don’t get it.

All in all I’d say the BBC probably has the better team and when it comes down to it I’ll watch the final on the Beeb I suspect. I think both channels can be comfortable with their studio outfit but when it comes to behind the microphone, the BBC has Jonathan Pearce who is a real turn-off but otherwise (bar Savage’s attempts) they are ok (I think Phil Neville will get better) but ITV just don’t have anyone bar Clive Tyldesley who I’d say was anything better than average.

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Sister Cristina Scuccia and her quite heartwarming TV moment

I haven’t blogged in an age. So what could drag me back into writing? Well how about the story of a nun, a TV show and general all round awesomeness?

If you know me well you’ll know that gutter TV and me are in a relationship. I watch a lot of rubbish television. A lot. Like a lot of people I also enjoy The Voice, well the audition part of The Voice anyway. The rest isn’t that great but the auditions are fun. I watch the UK version. I watch the American version and I also scour YouTube to watch auditions from versions from all over the Globe.

Well over the weekend one audition has gone viral. The audition of Sister Cristina Scuccia. The 25 year-old nun who lives in Milan but originally from Sicily was insecure about her life and where it was heading. Her Mother Superior told her to use her gift of a singing voice and audition for The Voice of Italy and if on the off chance you haven’t seen it yet then it is embedded below and is just quite frankly heartwarming.

Now is it the best audition I have seen in terms of singing voice? Probably not but it is extremely good. However what makes it stand out is watching the audience go crazy and then the faces of all the judges as they turned around. If there is one thing the Italian public will like it is a nun who can entertain. She must be about as red hot favourite as their has ever been for one of these shows after just one audition. A deeply Catholic country, a nun, real singing talent, that is a recipe for insane popularity right there.

The crowd go nuts after her first line and the two males judges look at each other noticing this and knowing it must be something special. The rapper J-Ax is the one that goes first followed by former X Factor Italy star Noemi. They are both delighted with what they see and J-ax implores the other two to push their buttons. Piero Pelu does so and then after more pleading Raffaella Carrà finally turns her button but gestures clearly that she’s only done it on the say so of J-ax before turning around and her jaw hitting the ground.

Nuns from her religious order are watching and are overjoyed as everyone turns and then the judges make their cases to Sister Cristina. J-ax says that if he had heard her voice whilst in his teens then he’d probably be Pope by now and that they could be the devil and the holy water. The other male judge Piero Pelu also makes an impassioned plea for her to join his team. Raffaella Carrà is just stunned that this is a real nun and Noemi decides to attempt to engage with her religious side by proclaiming herself holy water as well.

At the end she says that she had decided beforehand that if she had to choose then she would do so solely on the basis of who turned first and therefore chooses J-ax. Sometimes opposites attract and I have a feeling these two will win the competition and she will go on to be a big star and potentially a huge asset to the Roman Catholic church as they look to engage with a younger generation. I think she chose J-ax correctly as he was clearly the most into her voice, his reactions say as much.

This audition has gone viral due to the fact it is such a feel good story. Her voice is clearly legit and isn’t TV there to get us talking and to entertain us? In this case it has certainly done that to me because I just can’t stop watching it. I will certainly be looking out for her future performances!

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Andy Gray & Richard Keys singing ‘Get your tits out…’ to a female presenter (video).

Andy Gray and Richard Keys are ‘lads’ as some people would say. They are also clearly immature pathetic individuals. They got their comeuppance when there were leaks of videos of them talking about Sian Massay and then how Gray dealt with a female colleague. They disappeared from UK TV and are now presenting and commentating on Bein Sport in Dubai. They have disappeared from the public (or shall we say the football) consciousness for a good while now until last Saturday.

Last Saturday Andy Gray stepped into the commentary box alongside Ian Darke to call the Stevenage v Everton FA Cup game for BT Sport. Michael Owen was on holiday so Gray came in for a guest appearance. Now I know we’ve all come to realise how bad Michael Owen is in this role but having Andy Gray back alongside Ian Darke reminded us about what good co-commentary is. He was exceptional. Pairing him up with one of his two his long-time commentary partners in Ian Darke was a wise decision. It was like slipping on a very comfortable pair of jogging bottoms and slippers. The commentary was first rate. The sins of the past, whilst not forgotten, maybe forgiven. The general feedback was positive and doors were opened about Gray’s future and possible return to UK TV on a more permanent basis.

Step in another leak. This one comes from well over a decade ago and shows Andy Gray and Richard Keys singing ‘Get your tits out for the lads’ to Clare Tomlinson, who was at the time the main reporter for Sky Sports Football in the tunnel for the big games. You can watch the video below.

Now the timing of this leak is of course interesting. Just a few days after Andy Gray made a return to UK TV to overwhelming praise. This leak is clearly meant to derail any possibility of Andy Gray doing more work with BT. So the question is whether the leak is from the Sky hierarchy or whether it is a former colleague who was subjected to working with Gray during his time at Sky Sports. I’m relatively sure it is the latter.

The one thing though this video shows apart from how crass and vile these two men clearly are/were is that they were crass and vile for a long, long time. Sky obviously knew about it but they decided to ignore the problem. Either they chose to do so because they didn’t want to upset their talent or because they didn’t care. I suspect it is probably a bit from column A and a bit from column B.

Since Clare Tomlinson left her role as the touchline reporter for big games on Sky Sports, no women have played a key role in any of their major live sporting coverage as a presenter, commentator or reporter bar Georgie Thompson’s one year on Sky F1. Women have been involved in minor sports and in other roles but they’ve failed to break through in those big three roles. In all honesty Georgie might have been the right pick to front F1 instead of Simon Lazenby but they went for Lazenby. This is in vast contrast to the BBC where Gabby Logan, Hazel Irvine, Sue Barker and Clare Balding have all presented or still do present major live sporting events on the channel.

Sky clearly have a problem. I’m not saying they need to get rid of talent just to bring in women but they have to find better ways to bring through female talent in key roles. They clearly have talented women on staff with Sky Sports News. I am sure Hayley McQueen, Kirsty Gallacher, Sarah-Jane Mee and Natalie Sawyer to name a few could be excellent presenters on big live sporting events. I know they have had a little exposure in these roles but why don’t they get more?

I don’t want Jeff Stelling replaced in any capacity. I don’t want Ed Chamberlain replaced in any capacity. I don’t want David Gower replaced in any capacity. I don’t want Dave Clark replaced in any capacity. They are probably the four most well known front men sky have (Champions League, Soccer Saturday, Super Sunday, Monday Night Football, England Cricket, Darts, Boxing) but there are surely sports for these people to branch out from autocue readers on Sky Sports News. Dave Clark did, Simon Thomas did, Dave Jones did, so why haven’t any of the women?

I question the culture at Sky Sports and suspect it has been poor for many a year. This video shows someone knew (and I suspect everyone knew) how sexist and ugly the workplace was for women for many years. Nothing happened until videos started to get leaked. Had no-one leaked the Keys/Gray videos then I have no doubt they would both be at Sky. So I wonder what Sky Sports will do for women.

On the issue of Andy Gray then I’m completely torn. He is the best co-commentator on football we have. As much as I like Alan Smith, Jim Beglin and Gary Neville, Gray is the most natural in the business. BT have won Champions League rights from the 2015-2016 season and having Darke and Gray anchor their coverage would be a real good move. However the question of whether he is a changed man or not must play a factor. If he has then everyone deserves a second chance but if he hasn’t then the sexual objectivity he creates in the workplace is vastly more important than having a better pundit in the commentary box, even if it means putting up with the monotone and hapless Michael Owen for a few more years.

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Take Me Out Girls 2014

For the latest series photos and gossip then please follow the link for Take Me Out Girls Photos for Season Seven – 2015.

In exactly 168 hours time (that is this time next week for those too lazy to work it out) at the time of publishing, the Take Me Out theme tune will be playing on ITV1 and ITV1HD announcing the start of season six of the dating show. Paddy will say ‘Bring on the girls’ and thirty women will descend those twelve stairs hoping to ascend them with a hot guy and a date on the Isle of Fernando’s.

This season has a new twist though, if a guy has one or two girls left in the final round then he’ll have the option of taking a mysterious girl who’ll be hidden in the love lift. He won’t be able to see her but will be able to hear her speak. Will he chose the unknown voice over the women stood before him with their lights left on? We’ll find out in the ‘Frisky or Risky’ round – in my head I said that in a Roy Walker voice.

Reading the notes sent out you wouldn’t believe the amount of accessories used by the girls for the series, from foundation to false eyelashes to hairspray to nail varnish. Last time I was on TV I was in make-up for less than two minutes, but I suppose I wasn’t looking for a date and I doubt even with several hours I’d have looked that great. This season the preferred wardrobe trends were neon and pink.

As for communicating with the girls, in general most of them over the past few series have been fine with follows/tweets but prefer not to be contacted via Facebook. Most of them will have twitter accounts so feel free to search for them and tweet them, however I’d recommend not trying to get in touch via other social media platforms as in general they prefer them to be kept more private.

Anyway I suspect all you want really is the photos and the details. You’ll find them all below. I hope you enjoy my lighthearted take as I take you through the original flirty thirty and enjoy the sixth installment from Saturday 4th January at 20:50.

Please click on the photos to go to their specific pages and from there you can view them full size.

Flirty Thirty Take Me Out 2014 ITV1
Flirty Thirty
Amanda Take Me Out 2014 ITV1

Age: 26
Job: Support Worker
Location: Barnsley
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Nearly a Year
Random Fact: Her family have nicknamed her ‘Bungalow’ as there is ‘nothing upstairs’
Reason why I think she’s great: Smile
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: Her ideal man is good looking, has a six-pack and a great sense of humour. I might get half a mark for the humour section but the other two…epic fail.

Amber Take Me Out 2014 ITV1

Age: 19
Job: Dinner Lady
Location: Bristol
Length of being single before Take Me Out: 19 years…
Random Fact: Her great-granddad was Norwegian and came to England in a rowing boat
Reason why I think she’s great: She’s terrified of lifts and would prefer to walk up 25 flights of stairs, we have something in common!
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: Her ideal celebrity is Danny Dyer. I’m pretty sure I’m the polar opposite to him.

Bethany Take Me Out 2014 ITV1

Age: 19
Job: Media & Journalism Student
Location: Coventry
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Two Years
Random Fact: She once had a date where the guy was told the wait for a table was 90 minutes, her date was adamant they went there as it was free for students. He also ordered tap water and I thought I was a lousy date…
Reason why I think she’s great: Look at her degree, as a Journalism grad I am naturally attracted to Journalism students.
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: The degree is looking good but she wants to be a fashion journalist. I know more about the Japanese language than I do fashion but I do think my Nike Air Max 95s Limited Edition Sunset Trainers are pretty damn cool…

Chloe Take Me Out 2014 ITV1

Age: 22
Job: Call Centre Worker
Location: The Wirral
Length of being single before Take Me Out: One Year
Random Fact: She’s related to the lead singer of Dexy’s Midnight Runners. I think we all just sang ‘Come on Eileen’ in our heads there…
Reason why I think she’s great: She likes to keep dates engaged with her intelligent side. I like this!
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: The notes ITV have sent out don’t include anything about the kind of guy she likes, so I guess we’ll have to watch and find out!

Coryn Take Me Out 2014 ITV1

Age: 18
Job: Trainee Dental Nurse
Location: Liverpool
Length of being single before Take Me Out: One Year
Random Fact: She makes her own clothes
Reason why I think she’s great: Just look at her…
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: This could be a long one, her best date picked her up in a white lambo and whisked her off to see Beyonce, her ideal date in on board a luxury yacht, whilst sipping champagne, and and she can’t stand bad teeth. I think I’m possibly not her ideal date somehow…

Danielle Take Me Out 2014 ITV1

Age: 22
Job: Customer Services Advisor
Location: Isle of Wight
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Eight Months
Random Fact: Her special talent is making origami birds
Reason why I think she’s great: Well I lived on the Isle of Wight for many years so we could converse about Isle of Wight things
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: Her celebrity crush is Tom Hardy because he’s ‘rugged, with a great smile, good body and tattoos’ 0/4 for me…

Dolly Take Me Out 2014 ITV1

Age: 21
Job: Globalisation History & Politics Student
Location: Brighton
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Two Months
Random Fact: she wants to work for the UN or Amnesty International when she graduates
Reason why I think she’s great: Well that hair for one thing. Seriously I’m being wooed by that alone but she describes herself as a ‘crazy little hippy child’ and deep down I love that
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: She is impressed by a guy who can play acoustic guitar and sing. Fail.

Eleni Take Me Out 2014 ITV1

Age: 20
Job: Wedding Videographer
Location: Wirral
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Eleven Months
Random Fact: She has a brown belt in Jiu-Jitsu
Reason why I think she’s great: She knows the dance moves to many terrible pop songs
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: She is turned off by short men. Is 5ft9″ short…?

Emily Take Me Out 2014 ITV1

Age: 25
Job: Classical Singer
Location: Fulham
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Six Months
Random Fact: She is a direct descendant of Guy Fawkes
Reason why I think she’s great: She has the nickname ’22 slice’ because she once ate a whole 22 slice pizza on a night out. I am impressed.
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: Her celebrity crush is Bradley Cooper. Why can’t some of these ladies have celebrity crushes on traditionally non good-looking guys like Ian Beale, Arnold Rimmer or possibly even Father Jack?

Gemma Take Me Out 2014 ITV1

Age: 22
Job: Trainee Accountant & Face Printer
Location: Leeds
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Seventeen Months
Random Fact: She can speak gaelic and do the splits
Reason why I think she’s great: Her ideal date is going to a water park. Yep totally down with that.
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: She’s always ‘up for the craic’ whereas my weekend evenings highlight is deciding what takeaway to have. I’m cool but maybe just a tad less cool than Gemma.

Grace Take Me Out 2014 ITV1

Age: 21
Job: Trainee Teacher
Location: Barnsley
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Seven Months
Random Fact: She’s a big gamer, loves Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto, however she doesn’t want to date another gamer.
Reason why I think she’s great: Her nickname is Smiley Face Gracey because she smiles so much. Who doesn’t love smiley people?
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: She is turned off by guys under six foot…now where are my five inch high-heels again?

Kate Take Me Out 2014 ITV1

Age: 30
Job: Flight Attendant
Location: Liverpool
Length of being single before Take Me Out: One Year
Random Fact: She loves ‘hot yoga’ – whatever that is and has mastered the ‘Scorpion’ position, again whatever that is…
Reason why I think she’s great: She was once offered a place at Oxford. Can’t not like intelligence.
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: She doesn’t like pets. I don’t have any but still one day I want a kitten and he/she will probably be my best mate…

Kayleigh Take Me Out 2014 ITV1

Age: 23
Job: Accounts Student & Farmer
Location: Sheffield
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Ten Months
Random Fact: She lives on her dad’s farm and has reared lambs
Reason why I think she’s great: She would be impressed by anyone who was charming and a gentleman, however…
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: Her ideal man would be like a ‘barbarian’ – manly, tall, rugged, assertive… yeah I think I’m not a runner in this race somehow…

Kelly Take Me Out 2014 ITV1

Age: 27
Job: Online Boutique Owner
Location: Newcastle
Length of being single before Take Me Out: One Year
Random Fact: She recently dated a footballer who only spoke French so had to use Google to translate what he was saying. Newcastle United have had an influx of French players recently, anyone want to guess as to who it might be?
Reason why I think she’s great: Look at that baseball cap. I think that’s seriously cool. Oh and she’s stunning.
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: She is looking for a man over six foot, with a strong jawline, blue eyes and curly hair. Well I have the blue eyes…

Kirsty Take Me Out 2014 ITV1

Age: 29
Job: Client Relationship Manager for a Pensions Company
Location: Birmingham
Length of being single before Take Me Out: One Year
Random Fact: She is fluent in Cantonese, Chinese and Mandarin and likes to belt out her favourite rocks tunes in Mandarin
Reason why I think she’s great: She’s had a seven-year long relationship. That shows she has commitment in her.
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: Oh my. Here is her criteria for guys looks wise – Masculine, hairy, toned, muscly, sharp facial features with big shoulders – not even in the ballpark.

Laura Take Me Out 2014 ITV1

Age: 24
Job: Sales Assistant
Location: Manchester
Length of being single before Take Me Out: One Year
Random Fact: She often gets guys chatting her up at work – and she loves it! I once asked someone out whilst she was at work…and moving swiftly on…
Reason why I think she’s great: She would be impressed if a date could perform a disappearing act like Dynamo
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: Her celebrity crush is Joey Essex. Well I’m currently living in Essex…

Leanne Take Me Out 2014 ITV1

Age: 21
Job: Law Student
Location: Leeds
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Two Years
Random Fact: It says that she is often forgetful and once cooked a meal and left it in the oven for half an hour before she realised she hadn’t switched it on. We’ve all done that haven’t we…haven’t wehaven’t we? *rocks slowly back n forth*
Reason why I think she’s great: She’s scared of clowns. All good people are scared of clowns. They are unnatural.
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: Her ideal date would be something swimming related so she could get into her bikini and impress the guy. Two things. In that scenario I’d be in swimming shorts and that wouldn’t impress anyone and secondly she’s a law student – that is enough to impress any guy, surely? No need for this bikini lark (although I will admit it would be impressive but knowing legal stuff is far sexier – maybe this is why I’m single. Moving on…

Lee Take Me Out 2014 ITV1

Age: 29
Job: Physiotherapist
Location: Essex
Length of being single before Take Me Out: One Year
Random Fact: At the age of twelve, she declined the opportunity to meet the Queen as her hands had jam on and didn’t want to get it on the Queen’s gloves
Reason why I think she’s great: She has tried online dating, blind dating, even meeting guys on the bus. I bet we’d have plenty of bad experiences to discuss
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: She is turned off if a guy is too geeky or shy. Am I smart enough to be considered a geek? I hope so. I need more opinions on this.

Lisa-Marie Take Me Out 2014 ITV1

Age: 30
Job: Psychic & Life Coach
Location: Brighton
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Five Years. Five years people…
Random Fact: She is petrified of thunder, so much so that her flatmate has to sing her a ‘thunder song’ to calm her down and to stop her crying. Isn’t that from the movie Ted?
Reason why I think she’s great: I love thunderstorms. I would actually have some use to her!
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: She believes there are two potential matches for her on the show, one with a silver car. I don’t drive.

Lucy Take Me Out 2014 ITV1

Age: 20
Job: Hairstylist
Location: Essex
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Almost a Year
Random Fact: She once broke her leg trying to impersonate Superman. Now we all hope that story comes out on the show don’t we? If not please tell us…
Reason why I think she’s great: She’s happy-go-lucky and easy going. Isn’t that a personality trait we all like?
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: She would like a man with awesome hair and shoes. Are my Nike Air Max 95s Limited Edition Sunset trainers any good? Hello…? Hello…? Oh, there’s no-one there.

Marley Take Me Out 2014 ITV1

Age: 18
Job: Make-Up Artist
Location: Guildford
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Seven Months
Random Fact: As of either the time of filming or the first show she has been single for seven months, two weeks, four days, twelve hours and counting. If it’s from the time of the first show that means she broke up at 8:50AM – who breaks up at 8:50AM? – Also I have to add in she has an irrational fear of tissues…I need not say any more on this.
Reason why I think she’s great: Totally superficially – she’s stunning. Personality wise she has a ‘hippy-esque’ spirit. Also her ideal date would involve getting messy…time to call Pat Sharp, Melanie & Martina and get that Fun House project restarted!
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: She looking for the 3T’s in a man, Tan, Tattoo’s and Tub. I presume that is a hot-tub or possibly a tub of ice cream. Whatever she means as Peter Jones would say ‘I’m out’

Michelle Take Me Out 2014 ITV1

Age: 21
Job: Accountant
Location: Sunderland
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Nine Months
Random Fact: She represented England in Skiing from age nine to sixteen.
Reason why I think she’s great: I have to be honest, the notes ITV have sent out about Michelle are very much up my street. I could superfically say ‘glasses, glasses, glasses’ but I won’t (by the way glasses are hot). She doesn’t like people stealing her food, damn straight. She describes herself as smart-ish, sexy and spontaneous. Her ideal man would have a good job, preferably lives on his own, can make her laugh and have an inny belly button, otherwise she isn’t interested. On paper I’m very much the type of guy she’s like but…
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: Two little bits I missed out about her ideal man, dark and tanned. Bugger.

Nicole Take Me Out 2014 ITV1

Age: 22
Job: P.E. Teacher
Location: Leeds
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Never had a serious relationship.
Random Fact: She loves to play with other people’s feet and toes.
Reason why I think she’s great: She’s ginger. Everyone knows gingers are hot. No seriously redheads…*daydreams*
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: Her ideal man is a ‘Real Life Action Man’ – I once fixed a drip on my boiler and learned how to change spot lights, impressed? No? Oh…

Nina Take Me Out 2014 ITV1

Age: 22
Job: Cocktail Waitress & Psychology Student
Location: Aberdeen
Length of being single before Take Me Out: One Year
Random Fact: She has a fear of velvet. Is that weirder than Marley’s fear of tissues?
Reason why I think she’s great: She wants to become a forensic psychologist when she graduates. Got to like a woman with a plan
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: Her perfect date would be sky-diving. God no…

Olivia Take Me Out 2014 ITV1

Age: 19
Job: Voice Over Artist
Location: Surrey
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Been single all her life.
Random Fact: She has never had a serious relationship, her only brief one lasted for two weeks when she was in Year Eight
Reason why I think she’s great: She doesn’t like tattoo’s, finally a woman who doesn’t!
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: Her ideal man is a good Christian man. Well I am the son of a (now retired) Methodist Superintendent. Does that count for something? What do you mean I have to believe as well? Damnit.

Poly Take Me Out 2014 ITV1

Age: 29
Job: Beauty Model & Speech Therapist
Location: London
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Only a few weeks…
Random Fact: She can speak five languages, Hindi, Gujarati, Urdu, Bengali and English. No I hadn’t heard of the second one either…
Reason why I think she’s great: Enrique Inglesias as a celebrity crush. Someone who isn’t a film star or a reality TV guy!
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: She has a fear of anything slimy. So I won’t be taking her to a Fun House revival then…

Sadie Take Me Out 2014 ITV1

Age: 20
Job: Dance Student
Location: Kingston
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Two Years
Random Fact: She is a body painter amongst other things
Reason why I think she’s great: She isn’t interested in a guy if they believe working out is a talent. Finally! Also another cracker of a smile.
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: Her ideal man’s profession would be a pilot. Relatively sure the fact I can’t even drive a car is a black mark against me here.

Sharon Take Me Out 2014 ITV1

Age: 32
Job: Casino Croupier
Location: Glasgow
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Two Years
Random Fact: Her celebrity crush is someone I have never heard of – James Franco.
Reason why I think she’s great: She’s recently taken up Burlesque dancing…
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: She would love a pet tarantula. I’d just cower in the corner…

Siobhan Take Me Out 2014 ITV1

Age: 22
Job: Beauty Therapist
Location: Cornwall
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Never had a serious relationship
Random Fact: She is part Native American.
Reason why I think she’s great: She still checks under the bed for monsters. Either that is just flat out weird or cute. I’ll go for the latter.
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: She’d be very impressed with a guy who can cook. I can cook two things. A basic curry and a basic chilli. Beyond that…

Stacey Take Me Out 2014 ITV1

Age: 25
Job: Dog Kennel Worker
Location: Oldham
Length of being single before Take Me Out: Ten Months
Random Fact: She spends a large proportion of her time worrying about whether her quiff will go flat and if she’ll run out of hairspray
Reason why I think she’s great: She thinks she gets on better with animals than she does humans. I often feel this.
Reason why she wouldn’t think I was: She is turned off by a guy with no fashion sense. As an example I’m currently wearing jogging bottoms about three sizes too big for me and a hoodie with Penn State and a logo of a Nittany Lion emblazoned across it. Yeah not exactly a fashion guru…D’oh.

All photos © Thames TV – a part of FremantleMedia UK.

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The West Wing Review…

The blog has been pretty quiet for the past few weeks. This was surely either because I had nothing to write or I had suddenly got a social life. However it was neither and the truth is if I wasn’t sitting watching live sport, Masterchef Australia or working I was watching The West Wing. Like most TV shows I didn’t get into it at the time but I enjoyed Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom so thought I’d give his more famous show a spin. In the past month I have watched the whole thing, from season one through to the final show in season seven. This means I’ve averaged around six to seven shows a day. This proves why I’ve hardly blogged.

The fact that I didn’t give up is either a testament to how great it was or maybe I just kept going out of sheer forcefulness that I wanted to see it through. It was a bit from column A and a bit from column B, but there was one slowly developing storyline that I just had to see through to the end, the Josh/Donna one. They were found to end the show as an item. It was clear. The question was how would they get these two characters to finally get it together. I’ll talk more about this in a separate blog with the rest of this one talking about everything else.

It stunned me how I could watch seven season’s of a TV show without really liking many of the characters. I didn’t like Dr. Bartlet, I didn’t like Toby Ziegler, I didn’t like Will Bailey one jot, I wasn’t exactly a big fan of Leo McGarry either. I did like Josh Lyman but his character went a bit nuts and that had to do with Donna Moss so I can at least see why that character went that way. This leaves me with liking the aforementioned Donna, CJ Gregg and Sam Seaborn of the regulars in the first few season’s.

The final year with the campaign saw two major new characters in Senator Vinick (who I really liked) and Congressman Matthew Santos (whom I was indifferent to). Annabeth Schott came in and seemed a relatively pointless addition as did Kate Harper. So all in all I actively disliked more main characters than I liked, yet I stuck with it.

One of the really good things about the show however were the subplots. CJ Gregg was the Press Secretary and fell for Washington Post White House Correspondent Danny Concannon. However she felt it inappropriate to have an active relationship with a member of the press so didn’t pursue the relationship. This storyline ebbed and flowed and when Danny suddenly came back because he had the scoop on the assassination of the Qumari Defense Minister. It was a good move to bring him back to deal with that storyline but it was his relationship with CJ that needed a happy ending. In the final few episodes he returned in an attempt to reignite their relationship and it was he and CJ that got the emotional scene to seal their relationship:

What I love about that scene is how venerable CJ is and how she finally trusts someone and that person is Danny. He’s always been there in the background and in the end CJ realises that life isn’t easy but there is someone there ready and willing to help her through life. As we know from the flash-forward at the start of the first episode of season seven, Danny and CJ are together and have twins.

There were other enjoyable subplots and minor characters. I loved Joey Lucas. I enjoyed both Ainsley Hayes and Joe Quincey (Matthew Perry). I thought Admiral Fitzwallace was superb as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. However on the other hand I really disliked Amy Gardner and Debbie Fiderer. Why did they kill off Dolores Landingham? That just made no sense to me whatsoever.

Overall I think I enjoyed the show but I needed more characters to really like. Remember that originally Donna wasn’t meant to be a regular character and it was only when everyone noticed the chemistry she had with the actor who played Josh that she was essentially promoted to a main character. That may have been the best decision the show ever made. Martin Sheen too was originally only signed up to do four shows a year as President Bartlet, but that quickly changed when it was clear his character was a fantastic one.

So that is what I’ve been doing the past few weeks. The West Wing was good but the deterioration after Aaron Sorkin left was clear for all to see. Will Bailey was clearly no Sam Seaborn and the show lost a lot when Rob Lowe left. I did however really like the symmetry for Sam when Josh went and got him out of LA to work for him again, just like he did in the first instance. Clever touch that.

Still for me the Josh/Donna chemistry made the show and at some point I’ll go into more depth about that…

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UEFA stick their middle finger up to UK Football fans as BT wins Champions League rights

Head of UEFA Michel Platini is no doubt cackling to himself this morning. He is probably the happiest person in the world that UK football fans have been screwed over apart from Jake Humphrey. This morning they announced that after a long and profitable business relationship with Sky Sports and ITV, UEFA have walked away and gone with the biggest bidder, the company who know they’ve paid money that they can’t afford to get the rights to broadcast all Champions League and Europa League matches from August 2015 to May 2018.

BT Sport are paying £299m a year for the right, which is around £100m more than Sky Sports bid and have made the splash that they were determined to make. They’ve made it clear what their strategy is, they want to lose money in the hope that a few years of losses will lead to profit down the line when everyone is getting their broadband via BT.

It is a massive gamble but they have worked out one thing – that live sport is the only television that people will still watch live. Other shows are often recorded and watched at a later date, but sport is still watched live. Coupled with BT’s approach to dominate the broadband market then they see it as a big long-term goal to couple the two. With two million subscribers already it sounds like a strong start for the company, but the truth is the majority of them are not paying for the BT Sport channels, instead they are getting them for free. This is not exactly great.

However this blog is about why it is sticking it to the UK football fan. With now no games live on terrestrial TV (although BT Sport do say they’ll put some games on FTA television) it means that the biggest European club competition now doesn’t have a home on FTA television. With the Europa League also out and the Premier League having never had a home on FTA television then football fans will be forced into paying for a pay TV if they want to watch any club football.

If you want to watch all the games though, you are now firmly pushed into getting not one, but two pay TV subscriptions. Now as it stands I already pay for both Sky Sports and BT Sport because I get my fibre optic broadband through Sky. So my bill just to watch all the sport available is already through the roof. After tax, national insurance, rent and food, my next largest monthly outgoing is on my TV/Broadband packages. I spend more each month on TV than I do on electricity and gas and we all know how much they cost these days!

If I didn’t have to pay extra to watch all the sport then I’d easily be able to have a fortnight in a 5* resort every year. The thing is I don’t mind per se paying extra for sport but I don’t like paying extra twice, that galls, it really does. At the moment though BT Sport is I think £9.99 a month, so its basically the cost of a Chinese take-away every month but they’ll have to put up prices to cover the insane cost of this deal surely? So will they double the cost?

At what point do I just say enough is enough? Will Sky scale down their charges when they don’t have Champions League football? So many questions and none of them I expect to be answered positively. At this point I think all we can hope for is some football tips to help pay for all the extra money we’ll be shelling out to watch all the live games we want.

The biggest issue though is BT Sport’s coverage has been shocking so far. Genuinely awful. They have spent so much money and all they’ve got right is Ian Darke is the commentary box. Darke is a fantastic commentator and is without a doubt a first-class lead. Darke, along with Martin Tyler are clearly a notch above anyone else commentating on football in the United Kingdom at the moment. So adding Darke’s voice to the Champions League isn’t a problem. However they’ve partnered Michael Owen will him so far and Owen just isn’t up to it. They have Steve McManaman in the studio twiddling his thumbs whilst Owen is alongside Darke, why? McManaman and Darke built up an excellent pairing at ESPN (USA) and would be a first class pairing for BT Sport.

Next up is the Mark Halsey situation. I like Mark, I like him a lot, but he’s really not comfortable in the gig that he currently has. Having a former referee in the booth isn’t a bad idea. It works well in the USA on the NFL but Halsey has no confidence. BT will surely look at this and maybe having him in the studio for Half-Time and Full-time analysis would work better.

Then we get to Jake Humphrey. A man so self-assured that he makes Russell Brand look like a shy cherry-blossom when he approaches women. Jake has that ‘matey’ approach to TV presenting, which isn’t bad per se, the problem is you get the feeling that it doesn’t work when the experts don’t seem to like him. When David Ginola called him a wanker behind his back after Jake delivered a cheap shot about his trousers then it said everything.

‘This is how we do it on BT Sport’ exclaims Jake at every possible moment, what Jake? You mean you do is a lot worse and in a far more unprofessional manner than Sky, ITV or even the BBC? I know the BBC is often castigated for being a bit matey, but at least you know they all actually get along. ON BT Sport is just seems like Jake is hanging out with the popular kids and wanting to be their mates and they just laugh and snigger behind his back. Jake should watch how well Ed Chamberlain fronts Sky’s Sunday and Monday coverage, he knows Gary and Jamie are the stars of the show and lets them talk and doesn’t jump in with nonsense. It allows the show to flow and Jake needs to learn this.

So basically the fans are getting screwed by having to pay out yet more money to watch European competitions from after next season but they will also be forced to watch inferior coverage of the Champions League. Sky’s coverage is first-rate and BT Sport will get nowhere near that in terms of quality. Only Ian Darke as lead play-by-play will not see a big reduction in quality and unless BT make a radical decision by giving James Richardson the gig as the front man, football fans will be forced to groan through Jake’s candor far more than anyone should have to.

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