BBC


>Oops! I posted this on the wrong blog last night.

A young Elisabeth Sladen with K-9

The BBC has just confirmed the news that I was seeing across Twitter when I got in a few moments ago. Elisabeth Sladen the actress best known as Sarah Jane Smith companion to both Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker’s Doctor as well as appearing with with David Tennent and Matt Smith has passed away aged 63.

As a result of her appearance along with K-9 in that David Tennent story School Reunion she was given what was her second spin off series The Sarah Jane Adventures having previously been in the short-lived K-9 and Company in the 80s.

The new generation of Doctor Who fans including my nephews will always have as their first companion Rose Tyler as played by Billie Piper. For people of my vintage the first companion we remember is Sarah Jane. So her return to the new series was like us revisiting our childhood. Indeed when she left the series in 1976 serial The Hand of Fear it was the first time that the leaving of a companion caused as much media interest as the previous three Doctors leaving.

She first appeared as an investigative reporter when the Doctor himself was undercover to the Smith and Jones was born, the Doctor used in the pseudonym Jones when he needs to have a last name. But she also was the first of the companions to actually have a strong personality and really be able to get some solutions even before the Doctor managed which is why she stands out as a iconic assistant. She will be sadly missed amongst the Whovians from here to the co-ordinates of Gallifrey, although I suspect some lifeforms within metal containers may well CEL-LE-BRATE. However, I’m sure if they do so in front of the Doctor his sonic screwdriver may well get revenge for us all.

Elisabeth Sladen 1948-2011

>I’ve just sent the following complaint off to the BBC.

Earlier this evening during the main national evening news there was coverage of the No to AV’s claim that the AV referendum would cost £250m of tax payers money. There was no counter argument to this figure so many watching could have taken it as factual reporting.

Through the day the Yes to Fairer Votes spokespeople had pointed out that £130m of this was supposedly for counting machines which the Electoral Commission say will not be used here. £82 million was based on the cost of running the General Election, not all of this cost will be separate this time as there are local and assembly elections in much of the UK anyway. All of these counter arguments could be heard on Sky or ITN, but were lacking on the BBC.

Seeing as the BBC are refusing to use the word ‘reform’ when talking about the referendum as it seen as being too positive and biased to the Yes campaign, I’m surprised that they allowed this figure branded about by the No campaign to not be investigated and stated as if it were fact.

If the BBC are truly trying to act impartially in the forthcoming referendum they need to be fair and scrutinise both sides of the debate equally. In the past week, and especially today, they seem to singularly have failed to do so.

>Last night those of us in Northern Ireland were treated to a trip down memory lane. Now of course a lot of trips down memory lane here are full of darkness as where the starting points of last night trips.

The travellers were Kate Adie, Peter Taylor, Bill Neely and (newly announced Yes to Fairer Votes vice-Chair) Martin Bell. The starting point on their journey was when they were all sent (apart from Bill who was born here) to Northern Ireland to report on what was going on here from the 60s through the the start of this millennium.

They travelled back to the Shankhill, Falls, Bogside in Derry/Londonderry, Ballykelly and other locations showing what the place is like to day an talking to some of those from all sides about how things were then and how they have changed. Some of them admitted that things weren’t perfect yet, but all agreed that things were better than they were when first they had come into contact with the reporters.

You can see it here on iPlayer and take a look yourself at the before and now shots of this land that I’m proud to call home.

>

My dear friend Jennie had pointed me in the direction of Pink Stinks’ blogpost about the lack of women on the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year show last month. Being a helpful male ‘feminist’ I added in the comments some of the notable female athletes who somehow failed to make the remembrance slot in the show. Of course I went further than this and wrote to the BBC on the 19 December:

Where were the women?

Apart from Jessica Ennis and Amy Williams making up 20% of the shortlist for SPoTY, and the occasional female presenter of the awards, plus of course Sue Barker there was a distinct lack of female sport’s representation on this year’s show.

Apart from a 40 second slot entitled Girl Power there was very little about the successes of female athletes in a wide range of sports apart from the two aforementioned. There was also a lack of any women in the list of sport greats to be remembered.

What of:

  • Audrey Collins OBE died 14 February English Cricketer and Administrator. She appeared in one test before WWII but was Secretary and then Chairman of the Women’s Cricket Association from 1984-94. She was one of the first ten women members of the Mayrlebone Cricket Club when it lifted its male only policy in 1999. The day after her death the English team on tour in India wore black arm bands and both teams observed a minutes silence in her honour. 
  • Janet Simpson died 14 March who won a bronze medal at the 1964 Olympics with Mary Rand, Daphne Arden and Dorothy Hyman in the 4 x 100m. She also won a European gold in 1969 in the 4 x 400m setting a world record of 3.30.8 with Rosemary Stirling, Pat Lowe and Lillian Board. 
  • Or Audrey Williamson (29 April) athlete and silver medalist in the last London Olympics in 1948 over 200m. 

Their exclusion and lack of women’s sport representation is general is a shame to the BBC.

I got a reply on the 3 January.

Dear Mr Glenn

Thanks for contacting us regarding BBC One’s ‘Sports Personality of the Year’ broadcast on 19 December.

I understand you feel that there was a lack of female representation on the programme, and that sportswomen weren’t sufficiently acknowledged.

In programmes such as this we strive to commend as many different sportspeople as possible; male and female, however due to time constraints it’s not always possible to accommodate for everyone’s tastes.

I can assure you we value female sport as much as male sporting events, however, as I’m sure you can appreciate; a difficult decision has to be made by the BBC on the amount of time available to mention or acknowledge athletes. The choices we make will not be appreciated by all sections of our audience.

Nevertheless, I’d like to assure you that I’ve registered your concerns on our audience log. This is a daily report of audience feedback that’s circulated to many BBC staff, including members of the BBC Executive Board, programme makers, channel controllers and other senior managers.

The audience logs are seen as important documents that can help shape decisions about future programming and content.

Thanks again for taking the time to contact us.

Kind Regards

Shona McCullough
BBC Complaints

Do I think that the BBC made a difficult decision to exclude so much female sport from the SPoTY awards? No they took the easy decision and went for what was ‘commercially’ viable. The same as they do when sport is shown on their channel along with anything else.

Yes at Wimbledon we do get women shown playing, as with athletics but some of of female sports people perform at the highest level, are world champions, yet are not given the same coverage as men. Sometimes the women are competing at a higher level than the men, yet the reflection of SPoTY is that is a area of misogynistic thinking. Even the 40 second clip title I’d mentioned showed that, pity they got a woman to signature the response.

It’s not good enough BBC, adding me to the log is not good enough*. The sportswomen I know personal, or watch compete need better representation than this. The BBC is as much their BBC as it is my BBC. Better shape up, SPoTY needs women, and my heart is set on you, to do better next year you. You’re the BBC, won’t you listen to me…..shakes out of a Grease singalong.

* I have too many contacts inside the BBC, past and present, that say this is just something that gets skimmed.

>It is Children in Need tonight on BBC1 and BBC2. There was one year I recall not actually watching the programme, the reason was a valid one I was at the old BBC Scotland headquarters on Queen Margaret Road, Glasgow and my partner at the time had volunteered to help out behind the scenes.

However, to get us in the mode for this years what better way that last year’s official single, which in the best tradition of charity singles brought together a whole gumult of stars, in this case plasticine, or celluloid or computer animations. Well done to Peter Kay for coming up with the concept.

>I see that the BBC has compiled a list of 20 films that make men cry. Sadly it misses out a number of the scenes that get me every time.

The first is the final scene of Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun in which a young Jim Graham (Christian Bale) is after being separated from his parents in a different camp through World War II is standing with other children hoping to be reunited with their parents. Jim’s mum comes past him and walks right past Jim no recognising him. Enough to make the tears start to well up but then when she does turn back and he finally realises it is his mother the floodgates open.

The next is the film The Power of One. Set in South Africa under apartheid it is the story of young P.K. (Guy Witcher, Simon Fenton and Stephen Dorff) it has several scenes that bring on the tears. One is when the black boxing coach of P.K. called Geel Piet is bludgeoned to death behind a hut while a concert of his fellow prisoners is going on in the background being conducted by P.K.

Later on there is more when his girlfriend the daughter of a National Party leader is killed while teaching English in a township. Plus the final scene when he and his one time black boxing opponent who had saved his life by killing his arch enemy (Daniel Craig) in another township raid set off together to beat the system together.

There is also the film Gattaca. Where Jerome (Jude Law) plays an disabled man whereas Vincent (Ethan Hawke) was conceived naturally without the DNA screening and is therefore an “in-valid” as he does not have the superior DNA. But he does buy Jerome’s “valid” DNA to fulfill his dreams of being part of the space exploration programme at the Gattaca Aerospace Corporation. There are two scenes that bring the tears on, first is when Vincent is finally found out by his valid brother Anton (Loren Dean) who is investigating a murder at Gattaca. They replay their childhood game of chicken but Vincent is not prepared to turn back towards shore. Having to be rescued his brother, Vincent reveals that he won by not saving anything for the swim back.

Again as ever there is also the final scene in which Jerome sends Vincent away on his mission and reveals a stockpile of all the samples he could possibly need in a lifetime. As the rocket is preparing to take off to Saturn’s moon Titan with Vincent on board, Jerome eases himself into the incinerator at the apartment and fires it up as the rocket takes off.

Of course another film is Dead Poets Society, maybe this is because of the young poet in me when I first saw this at University. But when Neil Perry (Robert Sean Leonard) takes his life after his father objects to him following his dream and appearing as Puck in a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream you cannot help but cry. Then also the final scene when John Keating (Robin Williams) is leaving his classroom in disgrace Todd Anderson (Ethan Hawke) is the first to stand up in defence of Mr Keating, but is told to sit down, then when he is at the door stands up on his desk saying ‘O Captain! My Captain!’ followed my many of the others.

I know there are more films that make me cry but these are four that I feel really need to be on that list.

I see that the BBC has compiled a list of 20 films that make men cry. Sadly it misses out a number of the scenes that get me every time.

The first is the final scene of Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun in which a young Jim Graham (Christian Bale) is after being separated from his parents in a different camp through World War II is standing with other children hoping to be reunited with their parents. Jim’s mum comes past him and walks right past Jim no recognising him. Enough to make the tears start to well up but then when she does turn back and he finally realises it is his mother the floodgates open.

The next is the film The Power of One. Set in South Africa under apartheid it is the story of young P.K. (Guy Witcher, Simon Fenton and Stephen Dorff) it has several scenes that bring on the tears. One is when the black boxing coach of P.K. called Geel Piet is bludgeoned to death behind a hut while a concert of his fellow prisoners is going on in the background being conducted by P.K.


Later on there is more when his girlfriend the daughter of a National Party leader is killed while teaching English in a township. Plus the final scene when he and his one time black boxing opponent who had saved his life by killing his arch enemy (Daniel Craig) in another township raid set off together to beat the system together.

There is also the film Gattaca. Where Jerome (Jude Law) plays an disabled man whereas Vincent (Ethan Hawke) was conceived naturally without the DNA screening and is therefore an “in-valid” as he does not have the superior DNA. But he does buy Jerome’s “valid” DNA to fulfill his dreams of being part of the space exploration programme at the Gattaca Aerospace Corporation. There are two scenes that bring the tears on, first is when Vincent is finally found out by his valid brother Anton (Loren Dean) who is investigating a murder at Gattaca. They replay their childhood game of chicken but Vincent is not prepared to turn back towards shore. Having to be rescued his brother, Vincent reveals that he won by not saving anything for the swim back.

Again as ever there is also the final scene in which Jerome sends Vincent away on his mission and reveals a stockpile of all the samples he could possibly need in a lifetime. As the rocket is preparing to take off to Saturn’s moon Titan with Vincent on board, Jerome eases himself into the incinerator at the apartment and fires it up as the rocket takes off.

Of course another film is Dead Poets Society, maybe this is because of the young poet in me when I first saw this at University. But when Neil Perry (Robert Sean Leonard) takes his life after his father objects to him following his dream and appearing as Puck in a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream you cannot help but cry. Then also the final scene when John Keating (Robin Williams) is leaving his classroom in disgrace Todd Anderson (Ethan Hawke) is the first to stand up in defence of Mr Keating, but is told to sit down, then when he is at the door stands up on his desk saying ‘O Captain! My Captain!’ followed my many of the others.

I know there are more films that make me cry but these are four that I feel really need to be on that list.

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