Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Expert analysis

A long (for The Sun) think piece about relationships by Vanessa Feltz suggests she's now nestled in the Murdoch fold, and will be part of the TalkTV September relaunch. 

"HAVING a younger boyfriend can be tough work – as Kim Kardashian has found out – but my experience has been nothing but joy."

Surprise me

The BBC's news factory is having a busy August. Traditionally, it's the silly season. The BBC's Central Content Planners have not, perhaps, noticed we still have a war in Ukraine, a country close to spontaneous combustion, a zombie Government awaiting a new zombie leader, and a Prime Minister trying to leave No 10 without further scrutiny of his misrepresentations. 

So the research teams have been toiling away with agenda-setting 'investigations'. With extraordinary diligence, they've put a measure on the self-evident truth that it's really hard to get dental treatment under the terms of the National Health Service (with no less than 10 online strands to the story). They've scrutinised doctor and nurse recruitment, to demonstrate that over 1/3 of each group is now recruited from abroad.  They've found that some immigrants are trying to avoid deportation through sham marriages.  There's undoubtedly more to come, but I'm not sure it's effort that is well-directed. 

Gift aid

 R4 Today, 0857, Martha Kearney: "Give us a sense of what it was like to work with Raymond Briggs". 

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Lamont Dozier RIP

The middle man in Holland-Dozier-Holland has died. 

Lamont Dozier, born 16 June 1941, sang lead in his local church choir in Detroit (his grandmother was the choir director at the Spiritual Israel Church), was taken by his dad to see Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan at Detroit's Paradise Theatre, and then joined local group The Romeos, and wrote Fine Fine Baby aged 16.  Then came a move to Gwen Gordy's label, Anna, with The Voice Masters, and as Lamont Anthony, with "Benny The Skinny Man".

Berry Gordy signed him up - here's Lamont's words on how the songwriting team met up. 

Eddie was a singer, Brian was a writer, engineer and producer, he’d sung with The Satintones, but had much more success writing/producing Please Mr Postman. One day I was in the studio playing the piano, trying to finish Forever for M arvin Gaye. Brian came in, said, “That’s a pretty song, but what are you going to do with it?” I said I needed a bridge. He sat down beside me at the piano, stuck in a bridge and that’s how we started. Eddie was still singing, but he suffered stage fright. He asked Brian to ask me if we’d give him a shot at lyric-writing. It made sense and we became a factory within a factory.

The team's first big hit came with Martha and the Vandellas' Come And Get These Memories, which Lamont said was written with Loretta Lynn in mind. The follow-up was the majestic Heatwave, which went to No 1. 

The team gave The Supremes their first of 10 US Pop/R&B No 1s with Where Did Our Love Go? – a song no one wanted to record.

"Brian and Eddie didn’t think much of it, but I wanted to place it with The Marvelettes and it was written in [lead singer] Gladys Horton’s key. We played it to them, they thought it was a mess. Gladys said, “We don’t do this kind of stuff, baby.” I’d cut the song and didn’t want to be charged for it if we didn’t use it [Berry Gordy's business techniques ?] so I looked to the bottom of the roster, saw 'The “no hit” Supremes' and I eventually convinced Mary [Wilson] to get them to attempt it. Diana sang higher than Gladys but Eddie persuaded her to give it a go. She was really pissed off, she couldn’t stand the song, but that came through in her delivery which was exactly what it needed. She ran off crying to Berry straight after. He came down to listen to it, said this could be a hit, and it went to No 1 so fast it scared all of us."

Give us a sense of how you feel....

The BBC loves an initiative.  On the mental health front, it now has the self-help internal platform 'UnMind', the 'Employee Assistance Programme', a number of 'resilience' services, and a team of Mental Health First Aiders. 

Perhaps they're not get enough take-up. So now the BBC has launched an anonymous, online Wellbeing Survey. Issued in peak management holiday period and with an impending heatwave, the results may be pretty grim, as staff toil away at the thankless task of August news coverage... 

Eye balls

GB News seems to have won a week-long cash battle for a new slot on Virgin Media. It will soon move between Sky News and BBC Parliament, presumably hoping to catch the eye of those merely flicking between channels. 

This leaves Talk TV (on Virgin) just where it is, in the sparser territory between NHK World Japan and CBBC. 

Monday, August 8, 2022

No substitute

Either Radio 5Live cares about football - or it doesn't. The vainglorious 'more live football than anyone else' trails (one day someone will pay more) are infuriating, and, perhaps with fewer other trails (Jill Scott's Coffee Club podcast at the stroke of 5pm), there might have been space for the 'classified football results', at around 5 minutes of much-loved radio.  But now there isn't.

'With the addition of the 5.30pm live Premier League match to our coverage, Sports Report has been condensed into a shorter programme. We will still offer a comprehensive goal service throughout the day on air and on the BBC Sport website as well as Final Score on BBC One. We would like to thank everyone who has read the classified football results on 5 Live over the years.'

Actually, dotted through the 30-minute show, Mark Chapman DID read out football results down to the National League and Scottish Division Two levels, but the appointment to listen is gone.

OK, so only 130,000 do 'pools' (online now), but many more punters rely on obscure results in accumulators etc. And, dare I say, many of us have loyalty to, or interest in, the clubs in the lower divisions around the country, or like teasing their mates about the results.  Close to 250,000 went to Premier League matches on Saturday, with another 150,000 at Championship fixtures - how many by car, with car radios ? 

Sense checking

Martha Kearney, BBC Radio 4's Today programme at 6.37am

"Give us a sense, if that's possible to do, of how many deaths there have been during the three days of fighting ?"

And at 8.54am

"Clare, what was your highlight do you think, I mean so many, I know it's a hard question but give us a sense ?"

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Poet of journalism

The Great Welsh Silverback, Huw Edwards, was finally inducted into the Gorsedd of the Bards at the National Eisteddfod in Ceredigion at the end of the week. He missed out on getting into the blue dress in person just before the pandemic, so it's been quite a wait for this Rubovian ceremony. 

Here's the National Trust's take: "This institution, and the ceremonies and robes associated with it, were invented by the fiery, inspired, and occasionally laudanum-addled Iolo Morganwg (1747–1826). Claiming to reveal ancient truths, but in fact heavily influenced by French Revolutionary politics, Iolo and his collaborators (like many others in Welsh history) made becoming a bard exactly what they wanted it to be."


Huw was presented as "Huw Elli", with 'Elli' being part of the postal district of his home town of Llangennech. 

Later the same day, no doubt as part of some high jinks, the letters E, F, O and D disappeared from the festival site. Not sure where they'll end up - FODE is Middle English for food, DOFE usually means Duke of Edinburgh award.... 

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Property news

The Telegraph has resurfaced the story that the BBC wants to sell the freehold of its Elstree Centre, and make a deal to lease back the over-priced facilities it has built to produce EastEnders. The story first appeared a year ago, when it was revealed that Auntie's estate agents, Lambert Smith Hampton, had surveyed the site and suggested it might raise £70m, if bought for housing. 

This basically means either converting or rebuilding the l-shaped office block, Neptune House, which was added to the site under Lew Grade's ATV ownership.  The block has had televisual uses over the years - featuring in Emergency Ward 10, General Hospital, Holby City, The Power Game, UFO,The Plane Makers, This Is Tom Jones, The Des O’Connor Show and Hunter’s Walk. The entrance was  recently featured in EastEnders, as a dance school.  

Don't confuse the 'Elstree Centre' with 'Elstree Studios', owned by Hertsmere Council, and part-leased by BBC Studioworks. 

And these Elstree facilities are really in Borehamwood. 

Other people who read this.......