Category Archives: Blog

Top jobs have become more male and Oxbridge dominated under New Labour

Tony Blair’s pledge to destroy the establishment that controls large swathes of British life has been shattered by research showing that the country’s ‘cultural gatekeepers’ are still older, white men, most often educated at either Oxford or Cambridge.

“If anything, appointments under New Labour have become more male and Oxbridge-dominated” said Damian Tambini, author of the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) report, All Change at the Top?

Kamal Ahmed, The Observer, 14 Apr 2002

Television companies steal ideas

It’s an open secret that if you’re an independent producer and you go to see the BBC or C4 with an idea there’s as much chance of you making that idea as somebody else.

It’s a lunch cartel. You go in and pitch an idea to someone, then they go out for lunch with some mate and say, ‘You know what. This guy came in with this rather good idea, what do you think about it?’ and their mate will say ‘Yeah, that’s good,’ and they’ll go away and add a couple of bells and whistles.

Charlie Parsons, Co-Founder Planet 24, The Guardian, 14 May 2001

How TV programmes get made

“Every few months the senior executives at BBC and Channel 4 and ITV leave to take up similar jobs at a rival channel, where they immediately sack the existing staff and bring in their mates from their last jobs. They then cancel programmes and commission focus groups of unemployable daytime TV- watchers with personality disorders to try and find out what viewers want.

Meanwhile, writers are summoned from all over the country to dream up ideas for vibrant new, original programmes – ‘We don’t know what we want but we’ll know it when we see it’ – which are then ditched in favour of pet, cookery, gardening and home improvement shows, or more shite with Nick Berry in.

This time I’m considering pitching an idea about two sick dogs who swap homes. While they’re away they get looked after by sexy vets, and their gardens and kennels have makeovers. Then they die and get barbecued by Ainsley Harriott. I’ll need about a month in England for meetings with various chancers, charlatans and posh boys calling themselves producers, then I can go back to Ireland for as long as I like.”

Pete McCarthy, McCarthy’s Bar, 2000

I’m young, you’re old, I hate you! Now buy me those trousers!

From the word go, at the height of the cold war, youth culture was only ever the cleverest way of dividing and ruling and alienating working-class kids from their birthright and selling them a form of rebellion which came complete with all mod cons and built-in obsolescence.

Just think: all that pain, all that struggle, all that class war, suddenly sacrificed – one, two, three o’clock, four o’clock rock! – for a creed which added up to no more than ‘I’m young, you’re old, I hate you! Now buy me those trousers!’

Julie Birchill, Pop Goes the Icon, Mail on Sunday, 6 June 1999

TV penetrates our lives in ways we scarcely realise

“Nothing happens, nothing is to be believed, unless it appears on the screen. The fact that we should know better is irrelevant. The film Broadcast News questioned the values of TV news-gathering but ended up with a cosy belief that good drives out bad. Nor did it disturb the central tenet of all TV, which is that goodness and badness are irrelevant to the audience.

The person who appears regularly on the box is imbued by the viewers with special prestige. TV is the springboard to fame. Fame provides money. Money equals power. And power, whether to control one’s own life or to exert control over other people’s lives, is the key to existence.

Many films have attempted to warn those either beguiled or blinded by fame, that the world on TV is not real, It is, at best, a one-dimensional representation, while celebrity itself is a hollow concept.

But TV is a complex creature which cannot be defeated like Godzilla: it penetrates our lives in ways we scarcely realise, The grip it holds on our thoughts and the limits it puts on our imaginations is stronger than we wish to acknowledge.”

Roy Greenslade, The Guardian, 1999

Americans are so powerful and know so little

The French eat garlic and the women don’t shave under their arms. The Spanish murder bulls and can’t cook. People from Norfolk, so inbred they don’t know the difference between a tractor and a Ford Capri.

Americans: as dim as Toc H’s gaslights, they want to eliminate all risk through legislation. You can’t smoke within forty feet of a Federal building but you can own a helicopter gunship and fire live bullets. Their lack of worldliness drives me barking. They’re so powerful and know so little.

Jeremy Clarkson, Radio Times