Category Archives: TV

Logic Holiday

The years of political argument – first about Scotland leaving the UK and then about the UK leaving the EU – have left our politicians struggling to cope. The resulting breakdown of traditional positions has lead to party members being so confused as to be supporting opposing views – at the same time!

Take the SNP leadership’s current position that Brexit going ahead will boost their case for a second Scottish referendum. So do they support Brexit? No they are trying very hard to stop it – so weakening their own case for a re-run of the vote.

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Then we have Labour pledging to get a better deal from the EU – and then planning to campaign against the improved deal on a remain ticket. A crazy plan that has left the EU side questioning the sanity of the Labour top team. Their position is so wacky that the party will have to allow a free vote to get round the cock-up.

Not to be left out we have LibDem politicians demanding a second referendum for the people to be heard but then vowing to ignore the result if it was another win for Leave. Why bother?

Plus we have politicians from all parties who keep telling us – with a straight face – that they know no one wants to leave the EU without a deal. Totally ignoring the national ballot carried out earlier this year where the Brexit Party took the most MEP seats and formed the largest single party. They campaigned to leave – no matter what. And if the vote had been under Westminster general election rules they would have won hundreds more seats than LibDem, Labour and Conservative combined. Yet politicians know that the people don’t really want it.

Finally we have the Irish backstop farce where the key issue is maintaining free access between the ROI and the UK. The EU took the position that the UK had to provide a solution using the slogan – you created the problem you have to fix it. In response the UK has agreed to maintain the present open border. The most it can do without any powers to control the ROI side of the line. Irish politicians – you would hope – should be prepared to do the same. But it seems they cannot do that without the permission of the EU – having given away their sovereignty in exchange some nice shiny euros. So this farce is an EU creation that politicians are trying to make the UK solve – without any powers to achieve it. Difficult is do-able and impossible will take a bit longer.

Away from Westminster we have the BBC headlining every bit of news that favours remain or stokes up leaving fears. Hardly the best way to convince millions of pensioner customers that they should pay for even more years of being told that they don’t know how to vote. Logic has certainly taken a holiday ..

Feedback

Time’s Up – After much horse trading and secret deals the top eurocrats have agreed – probably – on who will become the next EU presidents. The changes are – at the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker is to be replaced by Ursula von der Leyen; at the European Council Donald Tusk is to be replaced by Charles Yves Jean Ghislaine Michel; at the European Parliament Antonio Tajani is now replaced by David Sassoli; at the Eurogroup Mario Centeno has been in post since 2018 and at the European Central Bank Mario Draghi is to be replaced by Christine Madeleine Odette Lagarde.

Surely all those Grandads who believe in continued EU membership will know all about the excellent qualities of these fine presidents – but for the rest of us it’s more like … Who? or How did they get that job? Interestingly there was no news about the future role of Michel Barnier even though he was lined-up for a top job only a few weeks ago.

BBC Sinks Even Further – Despite clearly expecting plenty of negative feedback on the plan to means test TV licences the BBC has continued to fire more and more bullets at its own feet (snowflake warning; metaphorical language – no BBC staff or members of the public were physically or mentally harmed). The announcements of the salaries of both on-screen talent and senior BBC staff triggered plenty of reaction. And not much of it was in support.

Then the sheer pointless waste of sending the main evening news presenter to Lyon to interview the BBC sport presenter also in Lyon seemed to go over the heads of the executives responsible. Apart from the benefit of providing Clive Myrie with free tickets to the football match and a stay in Lyon on expenses the whole segment was just one more source of ammunition (another metaphorical). Given the situation the BBC might also have reconsidered the need to relocate morning weather forecasts to Wimbledon during the tennis – but it is likely that Carol is a tennis fan so would have resisted missing her days at courtside; with pay.

And as this posting was being prepared came the news that the BBC is facing a legal challenge over its impartiality and biased coverage. It’s hard to see how this can succeed – given the resources that the BBC can throw against it. But having threatened millions of pensioners with a loss of benefit every unjustified expense and biased report is going to be jumped on – by lots of critics.

BBC Sinks Even Further

This afternoon’s announcement that from 2020 UK residents over 75 will have to loose £154 from their pensions to pay for BBC excesses will not be greeted with much joy or support. Especially when the BBC clearly makes little attempt to produce quality content in the most cost-effective way.

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Even live sporting events have excessive numbers of pundits and reporters before, during and after every event. Some of these pundits taking away millions for just asking other pundits what they thought of the game. A game that the viewers had most likely just seen for themselves.

Meanwhile the BBC’s lead TV channel – BBC1 – is full of tired shows like Escape to the Country – which today has reached Season 17 Episode 37 for the second time – or daily quiz shows like Pointless; where today we have a repeat of Season 19 Episode 33!

To quote the BBC’s own blurb – The BBC is the world’s leading public service broadcaster. We’re impartial and independent, and every day we create distinctive, world-class programmes and content which inform, educate and entertain millions of people in the UK and around the world. And that means that UK tax payers – including pensioners – are funding television, radio and online on [in] more than 40 languages.

Coming so soon after that disastrous last place in the Eurovision Song Contest – where the BBC paid more that any other broadcaster to take part – the Beeb’s claim of world-class content has again been put into perspective. Australia’s public service broadcaster – SBS – has consistently produced better for less; much less. But then it does have to try harder – with no licence fee income to pay for programmes that are unappealing or expensive.

Now the BBC may not be any better if the channels presently paid for by the TV tax were switched to commercial funding. But the Corporation is, in effect, operating a business model that looses over £3,500 million per year – the amount it gets from taxation to make the books balance. Much of that loss is down to corporate obesity. Time for a corporate slimming plan …

Euphoria Dies Down

RoyalMail2018OPEveryone who cares is already fully aware of what happened last night. And there are more than enough comments and opinions flying around to render anything extra from Grandad superfluous. So just adding our bit to the chorus of thanks for a great effort by everyone involved.

Looking forward there is still that play-off for third place but that can only be an anti-climax after the earlier rounds.

And as the football euphoria dies down we have the prospect of witnessing some dangerous games being played by politicians of all parties on both sides of the Channel. A wrong move here would mean that we will all suffer – and for well beyond the 2022 World Cup …

Sunlit Summer Continued

BudBeer2018-2It’s hard to believe but the situation for England is unchanged one week further on – continued dry, sunny weather and still being in contention at the FIFA World Cup.

With lawns around the nation baked yellow, burning moorlands, political turmoil and bumper exposure for Budweiser we face the final two games for the four teams that remain.

Clearly everyone backing England want the final match to be on Sunday – especially since the alternative is a pointless match to determine a meaningless third place on Saturday.

What more can be said but … Come On England!

Sunlit Summer

BudBeer2018-1England is enjoying that rare situation of having a football team still in the FIFA World Cup and a continuous spell of dry, sunny weather. A combination that is both exceptional and one that puts a strain on the nation’s drinks supplies. Clearly a situation that the beer and soft drinks suppliers did not allow for in their sales projections … even though closures at the carbon dioxide suppliers may have contributed to the threatened shortages.

At the football England’s progress has been made that much sweeter by a degree of schadenfreude at the early departures of Germany, Argentina and Portugal. However tonight’s game against Colombia may be too tough a barrier to England’s hopes of a quarter final place. But a win tonight – along with forecasts of continued warm weather – could clear out the remaining stocks of drinks Chez Grandad well before the weekend.

Seeing Clearly

Today the Grandads Technology Centre (GTC) received its latest upgrade. A DVD player with the ability to play Ultra High Definition (UHD) blu-ray discs and Super-Audio CDs via its sole UHD television.

This technological advance at the GTC comes at the same time as the BBC are streaming UHD versions of some FIFA football matches from Russia. And have just announced that much of this year’s Wimbledon tennis championships will be shot in UHD (2160 pixels high) with access via iPlayer.

UHDAdventure1However this technological advance only serves to show the weaknesses rather than the strengths of the world’s largest broadcaster. Most UK broadcast channels are transmitted as standard definition (576 pixels high) and even though the BBC’s (and ITV’s) main channels are available in HD (up to 1080 pixels high) the vast majority of the channels on Freeview are not; including those part owned by the BBC. Worse still some of the programmes, for example the never-ending repeats of Dad’s Army, are so old that they are in the square format used in the days of analogue television.

The problem for the BBC is its scale and scope. At one extreme it is using the latest technology – for a very limited audience – while at the other extreme it is providing most tax-payers with broadcasts using standards that are long past their best. Low-tech may be justified for transmissions to distant countries – but not within the UK.

For example, to enjoy the optimum experience of Wimbledon in UHD the BBC says audiences need a 40 megabit per second Internet connection. A speed much beyond what is actually available for most UK viewers at present. And sadly the UK seems extremely unlikely to have a powerful enough broadband network able to provide the capacity needed for everyone to watch Eastenders or Corrie in UHD at 40mps in the foreseeable future.

So for now getting something new and appealing, that will test our 4K TV, will have to be sourced via UHD blu-ray discs – despite them retailing for around £20 each. At least then we can repeat some new material rather than shows that have already been repeated ad nauseam on TV.

Never Heard Again

Tomorrow sees the first part of seven and half hours of live TV coverage this week marking the culmination of the Eurovision Song Contest for 2018. As usual Britain hopes that its entry will attract enough votes to avoid the final being another night of national embarrassment in front of a huge audience.

EuroNorton1If you think that this introduction looks familiar – that may be because it is a direct copy of what was posted here two years ago. Grandad could have also said much the same for 2017 – but didn’t bother.

Everything has become so predictable. The British entry is attracting long odds in the betting (150 to 1) meaning that it is positioned somewhere in the mid-20s in the field – again. Graham Norton will be providing the UK commentary – again. And trying to sound as positive as possible about the British entry even though he must know that there is no way that they can win – again. Meanwhile the BBC are putting out free Eurovision party packs again – despite not being able to support St George’s Day; or it seems any of the national days around Britain.

So a safe bet that we face another year of national embarrassment – but at least the BBC can be consoled by the knowledge that no heads will roll and they will not need to find a venue for the 2019 edition. To quote Mr Norton OK… That’s three minutes we’ll never get back, but look at it this way: We’ll never have to hear that song again.

Another Year, Another Miss?

Man_Euro2015In the next few days the BBC are due to announce their shortlist of songs for the 2018 edition of the Eurovision Song Contest. Then, following the pattern of recent years, a Eurovision You Decide show will allow a public vote to select the final entry. This year the show will be on Wednesday 7 February in Brighton and makes an attempt to gain some much needed credibility through employing 2015 winner Mans Zelmerlow alongside Mel Giedroyc.

But even before the BBC’s shortlist is known the bookies are rating the UK down in 24th place with regular front runners Sweden, Russia and Australia occupying the top three slots. Given our recent poor performances, the lack of incentive for ambitious artists to enter and the political climate, such a low level of support at the bookies is to be expected. Especially when we hear that Sweden has scheduled five national song heats just to get down to a shortlist; with other nations having even more entries to pick from. While the tiny Italian enclave of San Marino (population 33,000 or one tenth the size of Croydon) has scheduled four heats…

With Australia hoping to launch a separate Eurovision Asia Song Contest the smart money is backing them for the top spot this year – assuming that they don’t suffer from another reversal at the hands of nationalist / political voters.