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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.

Man1902

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 …

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.

Another Song Victim?

Hyper-active dancer Bruno Tonioli, local girl Sophie Ellis-Bextor and vocal coach CeCe Sammy will appear at the Hammersmith Apollo next Friday as the judging panel for the UK’s entry in the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest.

EuroVis2017Looking back over recent contests it is clear that it’s neither the singer nor the song that determines who gets the most votes in the final. A statement that is clearly supported by the way in which Australia was robbed of victory by the unoriginal and politically-themed song from Ukraine in 2016.

This year both Russia and Australia are back in the lead in the betting. But considering the UK’s political position within Europe the chances of any British song – no matter how good – getting in the top half of the results are next to zero. Even Lily Allen singing about the emotional torment of having to leave the EU against her will would struggle …

But this year the result of a song contest seems just too trivial to justify serious consideration when compared to all the other national and international issues we are facing.

So Soon!

Grandads may find this hard to believe but .. submissions for the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest have to be in by next Tuesday.

EuroSong1As always finding the UK entry is down to the BBC – and their plan is that all public entries will be carefully considered and shortlisted by a representative panel of official UK Eurovision fan club (OGAE UK) members. At the same time, entries are also being sought from leading professional songwriters, including BASCA members, with guidance from Record Industry Executive and Music Consultant for the BBC, Hugh Goldsmith.

And we expect the same dismal result for the UK as last year unless the in-built voting bias can be overcome with a truly spectacular song. However, after the Brexit vote, the quality of the song may not be a deciding factor. But perhaps Graham can reduce the damage, in Kiev next May, by issuing a groveling apology on behalf of the senile old voters who forced such a terrible result on the elite and glitterati …

Where Are They?

Are These Place Mislocated?
Are These Place Mislocated?

Obviously all flat maps are inaccurate in some way due to the curvature of the earth. But this distortion – plus the position of the weather satellite – should not cause town / cities to be relocated. Yet places on the BBC weather map used by Look North have recently seemed to be in some unusual positions when compared to traditional maps or indeed digital imaging.

According to Google Earth the straight line distance from Doncaster to Sheffield is 28kms and from Doncaster to Leeds is 42kms; yet Sheffield looks to be further away. Leeds to Settle is 56kms, twice the distance of Doncaster to Sheffield yet the map, if anything, has it shorter. All an unavoidable effect of satellite imaging? Possibly – but one that is routinely overcome by other forecasters; including other parts of the BBC ..

Getting Ahead of Themselves

Any complaints that Yorkshire lags behind other parts of the UK – or indeed the world – were firmly put in their place earlier today by the BBC’s regional team.BBCFutureNews_2

As this web page clip clearly shows the BBC’s Look North staff have already produced their news reports for events that are eleven days in the future.  Somehow the BBC’s science team have managed to keep this time travel breakthrough a secret – but perhaps they will make an announcement in a future series of Doctor Who; and travel back in time to publish it.

However critics have downplayed this shock development – saying that the choice of news on the BBC has been totally predictable for years.

The Best Laid Plans

After all those hours spent watching this year’s Eurovision Song Contest we should have learnt something. But many Grandads will today be wondering what?

Eurovis2Certainly the Swedish hosts laid out a spectacular show; one of the best. And the presenters managed to carry off their multi-talented performances in all three live shows with few, if any, glitches. And right up to the final round of scoring things looked set fair. Australia were well ahead in the jury voting and the UK entry was about midway down the field – a situation that seemed to fairly reflect the quality of the songs and their performances. But then the scores from the phone-in votes hit the fan and everything fell apart. Britain’s placing went down like a burst balloon. Poland went from having just 7 points at halfway to suddenly having 229 points and eighth place. Australia’s substantial lead over everyone else evaporated as Ukraine was given a massive 323 points for reasons that were clearly unrelated to the appeal of the song. Favourite Russia finished third.

So this Grandad didn’t learn anything new from Stockholm. Most countries still vote with a strong political bias, Britain is still Johnny No Mates and Russia is still a bear to be baited. Sweden tried so hard to create a musical Utopia – but in the end their dream was an illusion. Just sing c’est la vie ….

You Cannot Be Serious

Tonight sees the first part of seven and half hours of live TV coverage this week marking the culmination of the Eurovision Song Contest for 2016. 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. And this year, to be fair, the British entry has shown some signs of doing a little better. Better than recent years that is.

Pretentious_moiHowever the Swedish producer of this year’s contest, Christer Björkman, has put the blame for Britain’s attitude – amongst both the public and any potential performers – down to Terry Wogan’s commentaries. Björkman claimed that Wogan’s commentary style had raised a generation of viewers believing this was a fun kitsch show that had no relevance whatsoever.

And it is true that Wogan would snipe at the acts and the political manoeuvring in the voting but they were all light hearted, amusing comments.

When he retired from the role in 2009 Wogan himself said Eurovision is an exciting, camp, foolish spectacle. You can’t top it. It is fun, light entertainment. It is the biggest of its kind anywhere in the world. It is not about politics or asserting your place in the community, not even about national pride. It is not an opportunity to show your neighbours how much you love them. It is about picking the best popular song in Europe. He described the annual contest as a triumph of appalling taste… Everybody in the UK knows it’s rubbish. I think I have brought the British public along with me and we now share an interest in it. Many of you may have heard my comments and don’t think I take it seriously enough and you are right, I don’t. But I am a friend of this contest, possibly its oldest friend. How do friends behave to each other? They tell each other the truth. They don’t indulge in idle flattery.

The Eurovision director of the time, Bjorn Erichsen, critised Wogan for not showing the contest enough respect, saying Terry Wogan is a problem because he makes it look ridiculous. I know he is very popular and maybe that is the reason why a lot of people watch. Views pretty much repeated last month by the current producer. But coming too soon after Terry’s death for some, Björkman’s comments seem to be those of a producer painfully aware of the show’s lack of mainstream music credibility.

So for a contest where the best entry for 2014 was a bearded Austrian drag artist – a camp, foolish spectacle seems to be a fair and accurate description.