For some reason, I always find myself paying attention to weather presenters. Perhaps it is the fact that I have had an interest in meteorology since I was a small child.
Or maybe it’s the break in style compared with the rest of the news bulletin. Weather forecasters have much more freedom to express their personality than news, sport or business presenters do. Whatever it is, some weather forecasters are among my favourite television personalities.
Tomasz Schafernaker has long counted among my favourites. Many will have seen him in the proper news following his gaffe where he accidentally gave the middle finger gesture while on the air.
It is by no means the first time Tomasz Schafernaker has been involved in on-air hilarity. There is, for instance, his reaction to being told about his “frozen ball”.
Most infamously of all, there was his slip-up when he talked about Glastonbury’s “muddy shite”.
Laura Tobin came into focus after this astonishing incident.
The initial gaffe is surreal and hilarious. Her reaction is adorable. But the way she copes with it is the most impressive. If you tuned in five seconds after the bulletin had started, you would never know anything had happened! What a professional.
Cool as a cucumber, Rob McElwee would announce the apocalypse with a shrug of the shoulders. He is often so laid back I suspect he has had quite a good lunch! Here he is talking about severe winter weather in his normal unruffled manner.
Rob McElwee may sometimes look like he has enjoyed his lunch, but Francis Wilson looks like he has been lunching all day long. He is not a great forecaster though. His tendency to just list a series of consecutive numbers instead of actually giving you a temperature leaves the viewer perplexed as to whether to wear a duffle coat or hot pants.
Still, you can’t fault his personality. Here is a rare clip of Rory Bremner being funny, impersonating Francis Wilson.
But the granddaddy of weather presenting personalities has to be Daniel Corbett. His enthusiasm for any kind of weather event is surely unrivalled, and his descriptions are without question the most entertaining around.
Even Tomasz Schafernaker seems to think Daniel Corbett’s style is the way to go, judging by the way he signed off from this bulletin.
Years ago, this blog had a little button on it. Where today you see little logos for Amnesty International and No2ID, there used to be a button that said “I believe in the BBC”. It was to back this campaign, which was one of the things that got me hooked on blogging. I couldn’t believe how much of a stitch-up the Hutton Report seemed, and I wanted to stand up for what was the best broadcaster in the UK.
Some time during the intervening five years I removed the button from my blog. I had decided that I actually don’t really believe in the BBC. Of course, over time I have become more and more disillusioned with the mainstream media in general, and my opinion of the BBC has fallen south along with the rest of the mainstream media.
But I have found myself becoming particularly frustrated with the BBC’s apparent fear of its own shadow. It is pretty clear that this neurotic period of the BBC’s history began with the Hutton Report, and has been more recently exacerbated by a never-ending stream of overblown tabloid-generated nowtrage.
Of course, the lame tabloid stone-throwing is practically as old as the BBC itself. The difference is that after the Hutton Report, the BBC has appeared to actually believe that the tabloids have a point. What we needed after Hutton was a BBC that stood its ground and believed in its principles. Instead, it has become a blundering, self-loathing embarrassment; a stumbling colossus.
Nowadays, if a tabloid kicks up a bit of a fuss over, say, a bit of post-watershed swearing, the BBC doesn’t roll its eyes and ignore it like the majority of its viewers and listeners do. Instead, it trumps the tabloids, immediately making it the top story in all of its bulletins.
BBC News journalists then begin conducting fierce two-ways with BBC managers, and viewers are treated to a bizarre self-flagellation session lasting several days. The BBC sternly questions the BBC about its own outrageous conduct. After several days or even weeks have passed it quietly snaps out of it — only for another scandal to come along and the whole cycle begins again.
Take the television fakery scandals that engulfed the BBC a couple of years ago. Somehow, the fact that Blue Peter changed the name of a cat became the most shocking thing ever and threatened the very future of the BBC. I knew that because the BBC itself kept on saying so.
The fact that the commercial broadcasters had spent the previous few years building an entire genre of programming — the late night phone-in quiz programme — that was dedicated to deviously extracting cash from its viewers got swept under the carpet. Everybody was too busy watching the BBC break down in what you might call a Cookie crumble.
It was right that the BBC made changes following the scandals. But the difference in approach between the commercial broadcasters and the BBC was huge. Premium rate competitions were quick to make a return on commercial channels, with a bit more small print. But on the BBC, to this day the world “competition” is practically a swear word. Pre-recorded radio programmes are littered with apologies and warnings about the fact. The BBC’s paranoid fear of another scandal is getting in the way of its programming.
Then there is the Jonathan Ross and Russell Brandwagon, when the BBC inexplicably allowed a rather rude phone call dominate the news agenda for several days. While the economy was actually collapsing, the BBC almost willed itself on to implosion. When a bold BBC should have been responsibly reporting important news (which there was plenty of), instead the nervy BBC we’ve got occupied itself by poking its navel.
I found the BBC’s reaction quite seriously worrying. Even though the phone calls were a bit over the line, the reaction was completely out of proportion. And it has the potential to set a worrying trend, for the reasons Charlie Brooker pointed out.
The BBC is surely supposed to be there to do things that commercial broadcasters are either unable or unwilling to do. By definition, this means making challenging programming — programming that might not meet with popular approval. And in comedy in particular, that means pushing the boundaries.
The BBC’s decision to wave the white flag over the Russell Brand hoo-ha was basically a conscious decision to undermine the principles by which the BBC is supposed to exist. It follows that if the BBC believes it shouldn’t make distinctive comedy programming, why should it make distinctive programming at all?
The result is that we now have a BBC which is paralysed by a fear of criticism. It has become too self-conscious, and when the spotlight is on it nervously stumbles around. It’s not exactly the BBC we’re all supposed to be proud of.
The latest scandal to hit the BBC, over the DEC’s Gaza appeal broadcast, exhibits the BBC’s fear well. Knowing that the Israel–Palestine issue is so thorny, particularly given the right wing’s frequent criticism of the BBC’s coverage, it was caught like a rabbit in the headlights.
The first of the justifications given by Mark Thompson for choosing not to broadcast the appeal is that aid might not be delivered properly. That would be fair enough. It would be strange, though, if the BBC knew better about this than the DEC, a group comprising of thirteen charities dedicated to delivering aid properly.
The other (“more fundamental”) justification was the fear that the BBC might be seen to be impartial. It’s interesting to note that Mark Thompson never says that broadcasting the appeal actually would undermine the BBC’s impartiality. He is just concerned about the perception.
The BBC is perfectly entitled to decline to broadcast a DEC appeal. But the fact that it has allowed its fear of the public’s reaction to get in the way is worrying. It is yet another sign that the BBC is no longer prepared to be the bold public service broadcaster it’s supposed to be. And, of course, it brought a fresh round of awkward interviews between BBC journalists and BBC bosses.
It all makes for uncomfortable viewing and listening. It is clear that just now the BBC has very little belief in itself. So how should license fee payers be expected to believe in it?
Anyway, I think the way the latest revelations have been covered by the media prove my point. Predictably enough, many people have sprung up to bash the BBC for fixing competition results. And while this is indeed despicable, what these people have ignored is the fact that every single other major broadcaster has done this. This is not a problem with the BBC. It is a symptom of the state of the MSM as a whole.
It is worth also remembering that the BBC is the only major broadcaster in the country that hasn’t had its fingers in the utterly deceitful quiz scam channel craze that has dogged airwaves of the past two years. In this sense, the BBC looks pretty clean compared to its commercial rivals.
It is nigh on impossible to think of a commercial broadcaster that has not played a part in this massive scam. Programmes such as Quiz Call (set up and formerly owned by Channel 4; still broadcast to this day by Channel Five), ITV Play and Quiz Night Live (produced by Endemol and broadcast on a channel owned by Telewest / NTL / Virgin). Viacom’s TMF broadcast Pop the Q, Emap’s channels featured the truly dire Cash Call. BSkyB have Sky Vegas. Few commercial broadcasters are clean.
None of this is to excuse the BBC though. Encouraging viewers to use premium rate phone lines to enter non-existent competitions is unacceptable. But the BBC cases do not have nearly as strong a whiff as the ones involving its commercial rivals.
And there is not a smidgen of the hypocrisy that has come from the newspapers surrounding the premium rate scandals of this year. Newspapers were quick to jump up and down when Richard & Judy and The X Factor got caught up in it all. But they remained conspicuously quiet when it came to similar premium rate phone lines used by themselves.
Meanwhile, the BBC’s own coverage of the scandal was notable for how harsh it was on itself. I have always felt that, despite (or perhaps because of?) the constant allegations of bias, the BBC provides incredibly dispassionate coverage on any stories that involves itself.
I remember that on the day of the Hutton Report I was glued to BBC News 24. While you could argue that the BBC would be biased in favour of itself, for the same reasons Sky would be biased against the BBC.
It’s just that the magnifying glass is forever focussed on the BBC, so they cannot afford to be biased, particularly when talking about themselves. So they way they covered it was professional and detached, although there was a slightly surreal moment when you could see everyone in the newsroom rushing towards the corridor where Greg Dyke appeared. For a journalist to maintain a stiff upper lip when the story literally surrounds them in this way is seriously impressive.
I first learned about the BBC phone-in problems on BBC News 24 itself, and you would have thought that the scandal was almost as seismic as Hutton. But the problems seem to be roughly on a par with ITV’s problems with The X Factor, and certainly nothing reaching the outright deception of, say, Richard & Judy or GMTV.
I now have to post “eight random facts/habits” about myself.
I find having a conversation a stressful chore but I quite like talking to a large group of people
Despite the fact that I love Formula 1, I have next to no interest in cars or driving
I have a fear of answering the phone
I have difficulty waking up. I also have difficulty falling asleep. This means that, if I have nothing to do, I end up waking up later and later every day. I have been known to go all the way around the clock.
I do not have any ambitions
I much prefer spending an evening in by myself rather than going out with a large group of friends
I recently discovered that I am probably intolerant to cow’s milk
I currently have a problem with my jaw which means that I can’t open my mouth wide. This makes eating difficult
I won’t tag anyone — unless someone wants to take it for themselves.
Here is a post that demonstrates how somebody can “hack” your Twitter account as long as they know your phone number.
Basically, you can use some dodgy site called FakeMyText to pretend that you are texting Twitter from somebody else’s number.
But wait a minute. This is a website that lets you spend your whole time pretending to be using someone else’s phone. Why bother hacking somebody’s Twitter account when you can just go around texting everyone? That way your entire phone life is hijacked!
I mean, if I was given a choice between telling jokes about dead babies on somebody else’s Twitter account on the one hand, and texting an enemy’s girlfriend posing as said enemy saying she has a face like a baboon on the other, I know which I would go for.
This FakeMyText business isn’t a problem with Twitter. This is a problem with phones.