Monday, 9 May 2011

Popping the question: which channel? Part 2!

So what comes after any wedding?  The party of course!

Last Thursday night a group of us at work were lucky enough to be invited to a party on board the Dixie Queen at Tower Millennium Pier to celebrate the success of ITV's Royal Wedding coverage.  It's actually pretty rare for our department to get invited to this sort of thing, missing out on both the programming events and sales parties by falling into an unglamorous gap in between, and in any case the recession has brought most of that sort of thing to a halt in the last few years.  So it was nice to be remembered on this occasion, and great that the company realised that the coverage was something worth celebrating.
Team ITV Broadcasting in front of Tower Bridge (thanks to Jess for the photo)

As well as the hospitality there was a screening of a short film looking how the coverage came to air, and a nice speech from one of the bosses, who celebrated how ITV as a whole - the regions, ITN, Daybreak and the entertainment team - had all come together to produce a great show.  It was also mentioned that despite there being no commercial return it was exactly the sort of thing that ITV needed to be doing as a national broadcaster.
The 2011 ITV1 presentation scheduling team

There were also tributes paid to the presentation team, at least three of whom - Phillip Schofield, Julie Etchingham and Mary Nightingale - were present.  Most of our team were reduced to children again at being in the company of "Schofe", and after a few drinks one of us plucked up the courage to ask for a photo with him...followed by another...and another...until pretty much all of us had had a snap with him.  To his credit he was a complete gent despite us all probably coming across as a bit mad.  I explain that we work in presentation and are the ones that gave him extra time when Jeremy Kyle came in under - something he thanked us for!  Those opening sequences where Phil and Holly (and Fern before that) stand and chat to each other for long periods owe something to the quite variable length of Mr Kyle's broadcasts.  Through the broom cupboard, Going Live! and now This Morning he's been omnipresent through most of our lives, and having briefly met him you can tell how he's managed to stay a success.  Put it this way, if it had been Eamonn Holmes we wouldn't have been that fussed about speaking to him...
"Call security..."

On the way out we were all given a copy of the ITV Royal Wedding DVD, which had incredibly hit the shops on the Monday after the Friday wedding (beating the BBC's DVD, so we were told).  Unfortunately it's a straight highlights package of the events, narrated by Sir Trevor McDonald, rather than of the coverage itself.  You wonder if, had the turnaround not been so quick, they might have sourced the clips from the broadcast itself due to the reaction.

As expected the BBC's coverage had far more viewers than ITV's although not by as huge a margin as expected.  One aspect that has been commented on internally is that ITV's audience held in the hours after the ceremony, whereas the BBC's fell away, which indicates people were indeed switching over as I suggested in my previous blog.  You'd hope this would give some cause for concern inside the Beeb but, externally at least, it seems happy with how things went.  Even this week's edition of Newswatch gives no indication of any dissent - the opposite, in fact.  It's not long at all though before those mobile studios outside the palace are constructed once again - with the Diamond Jubilee being the next opportunity for a royal occasion.  I hope ITV have already block-booked 2-5th June in Phil and Julie's diaries!

Saturday, 7 May 2011

You're AVing a laugh

(Sorry about the title.  Yes, it's awful)

I'm not going to do an analysis of why the referendum was lost - there are people who can do that far better than I could - but there are a couple of points to make in the wake of the result.

Last night (after a few pints!) I sent a rather flippant tweet about the result:

"Let's face it, the UK now has the electoral system it deserves. Nice work all. FFS..."

To be honest, the only reason I added "FFS" at to the end was just in case anyone thought I was being genuinely anti-AV, so perhaps it came across incorrectly.  Anyway, the point I was trying to make was that yes, the people have voted (well, 40% of them), and shown that they're really not fussed.  So good luck to them in the future - they're clearly more than happy with our political system and all it gives them.

My comment was retweeted by my friend Rowan, who links his tweets to his Facebook profile, where it was duly published.  One of his anti-AV friends replied wondering if it was too much to ask that we were "gracious in defeat".  I really didn't want to look like I was throwing my toys out of the pram on this one but clearly I did (and to be fair, I was).  Rowan then replied with this:

"Yes, it is too much to ask. This isn't a nice little football game, this is about the fundamental fairness of our democracy. Should I have been "gracious in defeat" every time a bill to equalise the age of consent or legalise gay marriage was blocked? Should suffragettes have been "gracious in defeat" when they were repeatedly denied the vote? I know this isn't as big a sea-change issue, but I think it's perfectly OK for those of us who dislike today's result to be open about it. I will not apologise for that."

He makes an excellent point.  There are some issues that, perhaps, you shouldn't just roll over and think "oh well, that's that one sorted".  The subjects he mentions are all very important, with no-one in mainstream politics today seriously suggesting reversing them, and would almost certainly have not gone through had they been subject to a referendum thanks to the  good old conservative-with-a-small-c British Public (TM).  The problem is that losing a referendum gives your opponents rather a lot of ammunition to kick the issue into the long grass for a very long time.  It's not at all clear where we go from here.

What this campaign has shown is that negative campaigning is still very powerful in British politics.  Virtually everyone I spoke to who was voting "no" was trotting out the inaccurate one-liners from the anti-AV broadcasts and posters and speaking more in rhetorical questions that making an argument to keep FPTP.  "It'll increase tactical voting" - how?  "The second place person could win" - they won't.  "It's like the least-worst person wins" - that's the whole point.  "AV leads to more coalitions and weak goverment" - oh please...

Still, there is an upside.  Firstly, we can expect to see more bullet-proof vests, police backup and maternity units thanks to not having to see AV implemented - they promised! - so we can all be thankful for that.  Secondly, all those clever cloggs saying "no to AV, yes to PR" can now tell us exactly what happens next in that grand plan. 

(apologies for the Facebook comment/like thing being a bit screwed at the moment - my experienced consultant on these things, i.e. Kate, will be giving it her full attention it was she who screwed it up in the first place.  Love you darling x)