What do you think of when you hear those three letters? The BBC – The British Broadcasting Corporation. It does seem to conjure up images of the 1950s with men in their stiff suits and ties with a stuffy presence of the old boys club in charge of a public service broadcaster not only for the UK but around the globe. I have always been fond of the BBC. Something as British as cheese scones, strawberries at Wimbledon and Shakespeare. I do confess in my early teens, when I became a news junkie, I went through a phase of watching only Sky News. I hope I can be forgiven for my naivety at such a tender age, to not understand how news bias works. Sure the BBC can at times have a bias but it is more impartial than most. Plus I prefer the
Been attempting to plan a trip to the BBC Tour of New Broadcasting House for many months. Initially it was an idea for my birthday late last year but tickets seem to sell out fast and you need to book almost two months in advance, particularly if you want a choice in time slots. For Clive’s birthday I booked the BBC Tour for 10:45am on Friday 20th February, as a belated gift. It was a special birthday – he had only revealed his true age to me about two months previously and I had attended a celebratory dinner at The Peacock in Henton on Saturday 7th February
Due to personal circumstances, I was quite sure that Clive would cancel our meeting in Central London and I would need to find another person (sixty plus) to take instead. However from the outset, he text me to not cancel the tour. This was not an option in any case, as tickets were non transferable and non refundable. As the day came closer, it was going to be the highlight of my week and even weekend. However it was to surpass all my expectations.
Waking up at 7am on a day off is actually a lie in for me, as I am used to waking up before 6am on weekdays to get into the office bright and early. I got ready and then headed to the train station, purchased my One Day Travelcard from the ticket machine and got to platform one with a minute to spare before the 08:32 service arrived promptly, to whisk me to Central London. From Paddington I took the Hammersmith & City Line to St. Pancras – King’s Cross to await the arrival of Clive on his first class East Midland service originating from Sheffield. The train was scheduled to pull in at 10:06am. Having navigated myself around the station and being aware where the East Midland trains were schedule to arrive and depart (upstairs) I headed to Starbucks for a large cup of tea. I was disappointed the member of staff whom took my order did not ask for my name on the cup. Although by pure coincidence the person in front of me in the queue was called “Andrew” but as he was ordering coffee (like 90% of the people around me) it was unlikely for our orders to get mixed up. I then made my way back up to wait for Clive and kept regular contact via SMS, while he probably had his fifteenth cup of complimentary coffee.
The train arrived early and I got off my seat to wait by the gates scanning all the commuters, looking for the 6 ft Mr. D. He arrived eventually and we acknowledged each others presence with a small salute. It was great to see Clive, for the first time since his birthday and the life changing news. I thought it best to clear the air and talk this through before moving on with our day. I had realised that I had not purchased a Zone 1 TravelCard for Clive, but thankfully had my Oyster Card which had plenty of credit for the few journeys we were going to make into the West End. The Tube Assistant app I had downloaded recently onto my HTC One M8 had a nifty feature to show which carriage is closed to the exit on your journey. Geoff will probably be annoyed but unsure if the Station Master app has finally arrived on Android. We made our way from St. Pancras to Oxford Circus which is just a five minute journey on the Victoria Line. We then had just a minute walk to be at the heart of the action. We were outside New Broadcasting House. Our tour was about to begin. First though we had to find the entrance. I asked a security guard in his high visibility jacket and was directed to the side entrance. We then had to go through an airport style security check of my coat and a full pat down with a magic wand by a security guard before we were given access to the building to join a long queue. We then had to check in and be given our BBC Tour lanyard. Our tour guides were Amita (also from Slough) and John. The group was a mixed bag with a handful of “adults” and then a teenage party who were all from a radio project at their secondary school but everybody was based in the UK. No language issues here.
While we waited, we could look into the bowel of the building. You will know this part of the building, you see if briefly at the start of every main news bulletin and on the hour on BBC News (formerly known as BBC News 24). This was perhaps the highlight for me, as I have always had a great admiration for everything the BBC does from a news perspective. Sure it is far from perfect but it is a news source, I and million others come to rely on a daily basis. Eventually our tour began and we were taken on a brief security briefing before being shown part of the live news from a big screen. Simon McCoy (he of paper ream fame) was presenting along side another presenter, whom I could not identify but will check the schedules. We were then taken to see The One Show studio, before being whisked across to the Radio Theatre to take part in a play. Clive volunteered to do the sound affects while a five of children took speaking roles. I recorded the video but hit the file limited, so will need to work some video editing magic to join the two clips together and upload to YouTube.
As we made our way through the 1930s art deco building, the former entrance to Old Broadcasting House, we were shown some memorabilia. One was the original microphone that would have been used by George VI for his “Kings Speech” during 1936. There was also the original speakers used by His Royal Highness to broadcast the first ever Christmas Message to the people of Great Britain and the Empire (now Commonwealth) in 1932. We were asked if anybody knew who had written the speech for the monarch – a member of the school group, a 16 year old boy responded with Rudyard Kipling – he was of course correct. We were amazed at his knowledge and when probed as to how he knew this information, he responded with the most confident line I have ever heard, “Well I’m an expert in the BBC”. Now just consider this for a moment. You are on a BBC Tour on BBC premises with staff with extensive knowledge of the history of the organisation and you come out with not just the answer to a question but the reason why you have this fountain of knowledge. I wish I had been as committed to the broadcaster at that age. The moment took me back, what was I passionate about now at the tender age of 33 – approximately 17 years senior to this intelligent young man. (Double the amount of time he has been alive). This is something to consider for another time.
Our tour ended with a brief interactive element – volunteers were requested, those whom had not taken part in the radio play. Two people to present the news from auto-cue and then after a brief training video from Carol Kirkwood on how to present the weather. Again I recorded elements of this and will upload to YouTube.
BBC Worldwide – the commercial arm of the organisation, never to miss a marketing opportunity had a small shop next to the cafe which is where the tour ends and we had a brief look at some of the merchandise before planning the rest of our afternoon. We had more than six hours to kill. Before leaving we decided to have a hot beverage at the Cafe Nero which lives opposite The One Show studio. The barriers had been erected now and there was a strong security precence, passes being checked. We opted to grab our drinks and sit outside to look out for any famous faces. Inside, Robert Peston was getting a drink and being on autopilot as I was but in a rather lower volume I said out “Robert Peston” to Clive but Robert noticed as he picked up his drink and turned around and smiled at me and then went back to his chair and his notebook. Sitting outside we spotted a number of people including Richard Osman from quiz show Pointless, Tim Willcox news correspondent (wearing peach trousers or jeans) and finally from BBC Radio 1 (a station I am now far too old to listen to) Greg James. Although I have to confess for Greg James I had to do some Google image searches to confirm he was indeed the person we saw walking out with his girlfriend to probably grab some lunch.
The original plan had been to head to the British Library so I carry out some research on my grandfather whom fought against the Japanese in the Burma Campaign of World War II. However on contacting the Asian and Oriental Studies department, no records of the Army Officer were found and I have been referred to India. The office in New Delhi have yet to respond to my e-mail but I am not expecting a reply. Particularly with a government department using GMail to host their e-mail account. We then went ahead with out follow up plan which was to explore St. Pancras Station and in particular the Grand Midland Hotel, now fully restored to it’s 1860s spender. Little did I know the exclusive afternoon we would have.
Do you remember the music video to Wannabe? Yes by the Spice Girls around 1996. The start of the video was shot here in the Victorian staircase of The Grand Midland Hotel. After walking around some of the corridors, we made our way down to The Chambers Club. Little did I know that this is where we would spend the rest of the having a late lunch, catching up with my good friendand mentor whom I have now known for over twenty years.
This blog post is dedicated to Diamond Geezer. Over the past thirteen years I have followed his daily posts covering various events and locations but predominately the things to see, hear and do in and around the capital. Of course he completed this tour back in May last year. His one image on FlickR is much better than my collection from my mobile and I have the utmost respect for somebody who has the ability to write a fresh post everyday and care to stay fully anonymous in our celebrity centric world.
We bring you the latest news on the upward career trategory of my dearest friend Ali Zaidi. Way back in July 2012 he made his debut on the small screen followed closely by a second advert for the UK’s fourth largest bank just over a year later.
I hope Ali does not forget us little people once he makes it big in Hollywood, with his glamorous red carpet premieres and lavish post award ceremony after parties. Although he is now just one degree of seperation away from Tom Cruise!!!!!! To help with future housekeeping and to ensure there is a full record of the Ali’s baby steps in the industry I have tagged all entries where is featured. Hopefully there are many more to come!
Long story but I would prefer to spare you all the details. I ended up working until gone 11pm in the office on Wednesday night. By the time I got home and started to heat up my food in the microwave, I caught the close of BBC Newsnight. This fabulous mashup video, was used to as the credit roll, rather than the standard Newsnight theme.
Sometimes reality is better than fiction. The Chief Whip making a name for himself by annoying the Prime Minister DC and in the process breaking the cardinal rule during cabinet meetings – no mobiles phones allowed. Now the question is, who is the biggest Beyoncé fan – Michael Gove or my dearest friend Harps Virk?
Last year I was lost. Dealing with a number of issues rather than sharing with my nearest and dearest, I withdrew into myself. The cost of this was frayed relationships with some of my closest friends and as you can imagine a heavy price to pay! Towards the back end of last year, I slowly made a return to my social circle. Without wanting to put a number on the length of my absence, there is something unique about reconnecting with old friends. Even after a great deal of time apart, catching up four days before Christmas, it was like I had only seen them a few weeks previously. I suppose that is one of the reasons they are my friends.
Now having jumped from 2010 to 2015 in terms of mobile technology I have joined the youth on WhatsApp. While I flirted with the instant message application previously on my work mobile. (After my serious concerns with security had be appeased). However only after loading the app on my beloved HTC One M8 have I fully been unleashed. From sharing New Year greetings via recorded video with my brother-in-law and his girlfriend Katy, to planning a long weekend break in Bucharest with a group of ex Microsoft colleagues! This is just the start of the Teg renaissance – plenty more to come!
Glee returns for the final time (season six for those whom may have lost count) in four sleeps for us this side of the pond. Years ago, when my wife Michelle was still a big fan of the show I made the comment of when they would cover Take On Me, one of my favourite songs of all time! The second season of the show was airing when I went to see Ending On A High Note, the final a-ha concert outside their native Norway at Wembley Arena in late November 2010. Well they saved the best for last with the 1985 worldwide hit to appear as part of the two hour season premiere. I have watched the sneak preview about three times on our television in sheer anticipation. Bring it on people. Plus Suits returns on January 28th. Who said the first month is the most depressing part of the year!
Driving home from Wycombe to Slough on Thursday 23rd October, around 9pm, the night sky was lit up with fireworks for Diwali. Travelling down the A404 (M), I was listening to Capital FM and a female caller, requested Wait On Me by Rixton. Having not heard this before, I thought it best to at least give the song a chance. Being outside the age bracket for contemporary popular music, I had never heard of this band before but had heard their other main hit – Me & My Broken Heart. (Although at the time I did not know who they were). Young people of today, will be shocked to discover that even up to the late 90s, you could call up a radio station to request a song, only for them to play something completely different. I can recall DJ’s actually saying, “We do not have song X, but we can play song Y, will you please introduce…” This practice obviously would not work in this well connected, YouTube, instant gratification world. Plus, how many young people wait for a song to be played on the radio. The prestige of such a premiere no-longer works in a multichannel multimedia world. A song can be available for many months on-line before you hear it on the radio, although to be fair to the radio networks, they have got better in recent years. Then again, who under 30 still listens to the radio?
Ed Sheeran is going to dance in his next music video was the filler chat from a DJ one weekend a few weeks ago, as I made my way out and about. I thought little more of this idle chatter until I went to watch the music video on YouTube via our television set a few nights later. Ed is dancing for sure, but it is little more than window dressing by his fabulous performance parter, from So You Think You Can Dance – Brittany Cherry. Reading about the choreographers of the dance, I was taken to some of their note worthy performances from the US dance competition. Unsure of a duo calling themselves Nappytabs (The concatenated name of married couple and working partners Napoleon & Tabitha). There was a comment from Jordin Sparks regarding her song “No Air” but I did not get a chance to watch the video until Friday evening, when I got to search for the video on YouTube on the TV. We had been viewing various clips, from Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer, to funny clips from The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Watching the clip, took my breath away. YouTube with it’s file limits and heavy compression does not do the dance justice. I actually need to hunt down the full HD version but for now, this is all we have. How did I miss this from six years ago?
I have probably watched the clip about a dozen times now. I love every second, particularly the part when Joshua is brought back up from the floor by Katee. The ending with the exchange of the jacket is pure poetry. I wonder if Sparks or even Brown for that matter would have thought their song would ever been performed while a couple performed Lyrical Hip-Hop. While American has a long standing history of dance and dance shows, here in the UK, aside from BGT, most of the dance shows (Strictly Come Dancing aside) have flopped because there is not the appetite for this type of performance, cloaked with the candy of reality television presented by one of our own, Brummie Cat Deeley.
Television – I know, I watch too much for my own good but have in recent years cut down my dosage due to other commitments in my life. I have to be very selective, as I only have a two hour window in the weekday evenings. At weekends I can be out and about for long periods and only able to catch up on shows briefly (if at all). Even with only a Freeview PVR with limited space (500gb is hardly a mountain of storage in modern times) I still have to be careful with the choices I make.
Almost a year ago, I noticed a tweet from TV and radio presenter Richard Bacon. I had to do a double take because at first I thought he was referring to some new gadget from Mountain View. In fact, he was recommending his followers watch a new Channel 4 programme called Gogglebox (not Google Box as I had initially thought). Reading up about the show on-line, I did not think it could work, and doubt I would watch but thought I should give the first episode a go. Various households across the UK watching the weeks key television and then discussing with their family and friends as the events unfold on screen. On paper, I am sure this was a difficult idea to sell to the top brass. The idea of watching other people watch television just sounds outright boring and uneventful, like watching paint dry. I never used to watch the Royale Family but this new show would use the same conceptual point of view. To be honest, I did not know what to expect. I suppose that was part of the charm at first.
After the first two episodes, Michelle and I were hooked, it was like a drug. We have often thought if people make the same judgements and comments that we are making while watching television and it is reassuring to know that we are not alone. One of the first episodes comments were made which echo the same comments I had made earlier in the week. I cannot recall now which show we were watching or what it was in reference to, it was just great to see collective opinions from people across the country. My two favourite households are Sandra and Sally in Brixton and retired teachers Leon and June in Liverpool with an honorary mention for Step and Dom!
You know something has reached a milestone when it appears on Buzz Feed. Read this article to get just a nugget of the true brilliance of this television show. Stars have been born.
The show returns for a third series and has been promoted from graveyard Wednesday slot to prime billing on Friday at 9pm. I cannot wait, I hope they stick with the same families and do not mess with the formula at all. In series two they introduced a few additional households, including a couple that watch television in bed. While that may not be out of the ordinary, they come across as a couple whom both are in need of a personality by-pass (perhaps this is just poor editing on their part) and yes I know that is quite rich coming from me (of all people) but only those whom watch the show will fully understand. Catch up on 4oD if you can, I urge you! I can wholeheartedly recommend you watch, if not live on the night, on demand later. Many of the characters are now setting themselves up on Twitter, so when you watch live, as we tend to with most ‘event’ television, you get the extra dimension to proceedings by using the social media platform.
Three have realised that by using an advert that could have easily started life on YouTube and mailed around friends and colleagues via Facebook and Twitter is the ideal way to front a fully blown television spot. (They appear to have a website which enables you to star in the advert yourself!) They appear to back up this thinking by deep diving into our love of nostalgia by raiding every favourite song from the 1980s.
You will have to admit that this spot is pure genius, particularly the singing cat and the fact their young girl riding her stabilizer powered pink bicycle is actually only literally going around the block of her neighbourhood. The best television commercial at the moment by a country mile.