Sunday, September 30, 2007

John Peel quote

What with the Radio 1 birthday an' all, I was trying to get hold of a copy of Blood On The Carpet, the tv documentary based on Simon Garfield's book The Nation's Favourite. I couldn't find it, but I did find some extracts from the book (that I also just bought on Amazon). It's actually a compilation of interviews with John Peel that Garfield put together after John died. As with the whole book, they're intensely readable. As I lie here listening to Vernon Kay interviewing old Radio 1 greats for the special birthday show, the following strikes me as my favourite quote from those Peel interviews:
"People like Mike Read and DLT would often complain that they couldn’t go anywhere without being recognized, but of course would go everywhere in a tartan suit carrying a guitar, so they would have attracted attention in a lunatic asylum. "
And I've just noticed, in a beautiful bit of precient web surfing, and merciful logical TV scheduling, Blood on the Carpet is on tonight at 11pm on BBC Four.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Some new TV shows I've watched

Tonight I watched a bunch of the new American TV pilots doing the rounds on the naughty illegal internet.

First I watched Reaper. This can best be described as a new Buffy, but with blokes instead of girls. A guy wakes up one morning to discover his soul is beholden to the Devil, and that his job in life is now to return souls that have escaped from hell. He does this using kit he's thrown together from the hardware store where he works, and by sucking them up with a dirt devil and depositing them at the DMV (department of motor vehicles office; 'hell on earth'). It's funny, and it's got lots of potential for fighting with demons whilst cracking American Pie-style gags.

Next I watch Pushing Daisies. Stylistically similar to Amelie, with a running voiceover that you'll recognise from Desperate Housewives, this is about a man who has the power to bring the dead back to life with a single touch. Bad news is, if he touches them again, they die instantly, for good. However, if he doesn't touch them again, someone else in the vicinity dies instead. So what does he do with this gift/curse? Why, he starts a crime fighting detective agency of course, and he runs a pie shop. Funnier and smarter than it sounds, it features Anna Friel has the love interest, with a great supporting cast.

Finally, I watched the new Jimmy Smits vehicle, Cane. Set in Miami, this show is the new Dallas, except with sugar instead of oil. In the opening episode, which moves around ridiculously quickly with a million characters, known of whom I really remember, we see Jimmy take control of the family business, wrestled from the grip of the enemy family who own the adjacent field, and whose matriarch is sleeping with his brother. There's a murderous feud that goes back generations, political intrigue, lots of money to be made, and lots of rum to drink at parties. Expect people to wake up in the shower before long, but I doubt this series will have people wondering "who shot Alejhandro" in years to come.

Still to watch, sci fi comedy drama Chuck, and the second series of Heroes that starts tonight. Already watched, the leaked pilot of Bionic Woman starring Eastender Michelle Ryan (I liked it) and the rehash of Flash Gordon starring the quarterback from Smallville (it's appalling).

TV update over.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Cover version backlash?

I'm really loving the Radio 1 cover versions that are being played for the 40th birthday celebrations, but I'm starting to get worried about a cover versions backlash. Yesterday I was listening to Jo Whiley, and in the space of her 3 hour show, she replayed a 40th birthday cover from yesterday, played a previously unheard 40th birthday cover, had a live lounge cover from Jack Penate, and also played Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse's cover of the Zutons' Valerie. Is programming more than one cover per hour a good idea?

The other night, I was working on a radio programme's chat room, and we were asking listeners to tell us their favourite BBC sessions that they've heard throughout the years... the chatroom audience (most likely a fairly young audience) saw the word 'session' and interpreted it to mean 'cover'! The answers coming back were all along the lines of "oh I loved so-and-so's version of thingy". There are so many covers on the radio, that it seems it's now expected for a band to perform something other than their own work when they play live on the radio.

Three of the best selling albums of 2007 are looking like being Mark Ronson's Versions, Radio 1 Established 1967 (out october 1st) and Jo Whiley's Live Lounge album (out 22nd october). I'm thinking, and kinda hoping, that 2008 could be the year of the covers backlash.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Sensible talk about participation

I read an old Time Out this morning (I have a collection of them in the bathroom) and read an article about the Cultural Olympiad for London 2012. I found myself agreeing with Claire Fox's position on participation -

"Why are the key mantras of the Cultural Olympiad “engagement and participation”? These buzz-words may sound harmless, but beware. It is clear that no barriers to participation – such as having no artistic talent at all – will be allowed to get in the way of everyone joining in. The public is asked to prove it is engaging in the arts, by being dragooned into frenetic activity – all-singing, all-dancing marionettes. We are told that engagement “should be more than just being an audience member”. Quietly contemplating a piece of music or silently watching a play is derided as passive. This seems less about enabling people to appreciate the arts per se and more about trumpeting participation as an end in itself."

Well said that lady.