Monday, 28 January 2008

No Rest

Okay, it's a very quick one this time- just headlines really.

In mysterious radio adaptation news
- none, but still not bad news. rights situation was being checked last I heard. I had some ideas about how it should be done watching Easy Rider last night.
Interesting film, and I liked the ending a lot. Some really annoyingly arty cutting that hits its peak in an LSD sequence that outstayed its welcome for me, but generally a worthwhile watch. Quite low on plot but Pete Fonda and his bike look cool, Nicholson and Hopper aren't quite their established deranged personae, a couple of soundtrack elements are just great- It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) and Born to be Wild which just feels ridiculously good and fresh here.
Most interesting aspects of the film for me- Phil Spector's cameo in the world's most publicly exposed drugs deal near the start and Toni Basil in the gap on her CV between an Elvis movie and kitsch '80s pop fame.

In radio comedy news, things may be more hopeful than I thought. Nothing concrete yet but No Tomatoes series 2 may still fly, and better still, after I've finished this book rather while I'm still writing it. More when/if I know more.

In writing this book news, lots of interviews coming up, which is great because it delays the period when I have nothing to do but type, which is the most tricky bit of any writing, and they're fabulous big names.

In not drinking in January news- I've not been drinking in January and appear to have sloughed off enough pounds to consider not drinking some more.

In unrelated but I mentioned it a few weeks ago news
, 1500ish words of mine about Hughie Green, Hancock, Howerd and the Steptoes will be getting published by my ex-employer's journal. Don't know exactly when but it's to tie in with the upcoming BBC4 dramas about them all (which I think have made a brilliant decision in casting David Walliams as Howerd).

Now the weather. Ho hum.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Picture This

Blimey, the tiny media world I orbit is imploding. I've long been of the belief that there are actually only about two hundred people in Britain really and they all double up (I'm assuming I'm either not really a person or I missed the briefing the day this was all organised) but this afternoon's post convinced me. Pop Culture is eating itself (starting with Paul Morley).

I'd ordered a few books via (no financially beneficial hyperlink- it's just for fun) last week. They're to help me with the book I'm working on, and at least one was going to be handy when discussing the career of a director of commercials, some of whose archive I started cataloging a few years ago. The director in question had once employed one of my previous interviewees and his son now works with another interviewee whose sister I went to University with. Kremlinologists should be able to provide all the required names now.

Anyhow, a few of the books arrived today and I opened up the biggest of the packages to find not only the book I was after inside, but lots of sellotaped newsprint too. I ripped it open and discovered my book had been wrapped in a magazine showing a picture of someone I used to work with. It was a picture of the editor with a little Q and A below it.

Bizarrely, the picture looked at first glance exactly like a photo I'd once taken of them in the house Gerry Thunderbirds Anderson grew up in in Hackney (none of us knew he'd grown up there at the time- I was only there transporting Play School 's Humpty down to a reunion with Floella Benjamin in a cardboard box full of acid free tissue paper- Humpty not Floella).

I was momentarily rather befuddled- two separate parts of my life were colliding. It was a bit like when you naively invite people you know in different capacities together- and find that not only do they not get on but that you are incapable of satisfying what is wanted of you by all present. I'm sure I've mentioned that heart sink before, if not (and indeed if) it's the story of my life. These things should not co-exist I thought.

Then I had a bit more of a think- I never express amazement when things I buy aren't wrapped in pictures of people I know and that happens far more often. I was buying a media related book from a bookshop that probably specialises in media related stuff and it was a media related magazine that my ex-colleague from a media related organisation was now editing. I think it was free too, so they probably had loads of copies for wrapping purposes. What seemed an incredible coincidence was just the kind of thing that happens all the time in a relatively small closed system. Britain/media/arts/academia is ultimately a Venn diagram with a tiny little intersection.

Still, makes you think, if only about the way you think.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

In Media Res

Followers of my fast track media lifestyle, delayed, derailed and regularly replaced by buses as it is, will recall that I met Peter Bazalgette in December. At the time I didn't mention that on meeting me then he said "We've met before haven't we?"
We hadn't, though I suggested he might possibly have seen me in the grim ill thought through Channel 5 television show my ex-employers forced me to do, shortly before I resigned. Luckily he hadn't seen it. He was however kind enough to echo my feelings about the show's presenter and we moved on.

Well, on Monday, fresh from seeing Paul Jackson, the comedy producer du nos jours I'd say if French and pushed, at that ITV, I passed Bazalgette walking down Gray's Inn Road- quite possibly heading for that ITV himself.
He gave me a cheery hello as he passed, which I matched with an amazed one. Bazalgette remembered me!

Now, either this shows what a great pro and smooth operator he is, remembering and swapping pleasantries with all and sundry, or I look a bit like someone he can't quite place- maybe some embittered researcher or runner on a failed Zeppotron project, or a would be bottom level celeb who agreed to do something wacky for something late night and digital once, and he's now mistaken me for them twice.
Credit to the man either way, it's a nice human touch, to give the time of day to people you're pretty sure you've met, but aren't quite sure how.

Before I saw Paul Jackson, I was texting the producer of BBC Three's Ideal in ITV reception, just as Ash Atalla headed through the Fort Knox secure end turnstile and said good morning to Jon Snow, which I think you'll agree is so very nearly show biz that I could just be one of those failed Zeppetronites or sub-celebs... if I worked at it.
I say Fort Knox, it's more like a tube station but they're similar enough these days, though I suspect you're more likely to meet Honor Blackman at ITV or Fort Knox than an Underground barrier.
ITV visitors have passes that are one trip only and snatched away as they exit, staffers have exciting Oyster card like passes that let them go in and out at will. This system allows the company to be confident of exactly who's in there and prevents the rest of us keeping any Mr Benn style mementos of our adventure and is to be applauded.

Ash Atalla was one of the producers of The Office, of course. You may remember him best as a presenter of Channel 4's Freak Out, but that's just you being willfully obscure, which I like you all the more for.
Ash once called me up with some comments on a script when he was a comedy development reader for the BBC, I forget what the comments were, bar "no ta", they were constructive certainly, but you could almost hear his glee at catching the answer 'phone rather than a real disappointed writer, it must be an awful job having to develop comedy writers. No one wants to hear the word "but".
I later sat a desk next to Ash, working on the forgettable BBC Choice comedy chat show that came before the forgettable BBC 3 comedy chat show on which Matt Lucas and David Walliams did the Lou Reed and Andy Warhol sketches that became Lou and Andy in Little Britain.
That's one pretty fast track and derailed life style, eh?

"What's it like being famous?"
"Well, it's not like in your day, you know."

Friday, 11 January 2008

No no- maybe, maybe later, but no now

As I kind of expected, despite the enthusiasm of others, No Tomatoes series 2 has been turned down, for now at least (which is certainly a subset of forever).
I never thought it was the shoe-in others seemed to, to be honest (despite 7 apparently asking us to offer a second series), and my suspicion mounted when it got put on the internal Sony longlist last week.
There was, I suspected, a good reason it wasn't already there alongside Spats another 7 new commission... Paranoia or something less sinister...?

Anyway, the feedback is nicely anonymous- a reduction in newly commissioned comedy slots for 7 means it can't be fitted in, but it would be reconsidered if resubmitted in the next offers round.
So no one's saying my ideas are vile and their execution execrable (not in print anyway) which is a relief, and there's some sort of appeal process apparently, but I think it's safe to say the show's dead, for the time being at least.

It does take the pressure off me slightly (in every way bar financially) as I trog along on my book writing. I don't have to leap straight back into 'attempting to be funny' after my slog along in 'striving to be true', now- but is rather a shame for the hard working people who were the BBC's Manchester Comedy Department (now defunct).

On the plus side, I had fun earlier this week writing on one of my favourite topics "troubled telly light entertainment fellers of the 1960s" for my old employers in Bradford (and money, I should add) and I saw a review from Andrew Pixley (Mr Archive) for my last bit of telly book writery today- "Ian Potter presents the best explanation of how 1960s technology shaped the series" he says, which saves you £3.99 or a sheepish flick through the mags in WH Smith finding said review. If you don't know what "the series" is I'm amazed you're here.

Off with the motley, and on.

Monday, 7 January 2008

It's great being straight... yeah

Like a terrible old cliche, I've stopped drinking this January. However, I don't think I've ever done it before, so it's all new to me, and there is much to be said for sobriety, you know- energy, clarity of thought, hardly walking into anything, erm that other one, you know, memory.
There's a natural high to be had in not taking a regular depressant of an evening and walking around being smugly self-righteous instead. If you want to be a terrible old bore too, and you're reading this which is a good start, you should try it.

Went down to Allan McKeown's last week to talk cutting the hair of Rex Harrison's wife, Auf Wiedersehen Pet, Nightingales and points in between (of which there are some). Entertaining man, and on the way back I managed to pick up Jeremy Isaacs autobiography for under a quid, which was an unexpected bonus, given that I'd ummed over buying it a few times for much more from
I managed to avoid being there while Tracey Ullman was, which is probably good because I might have gushed, but her imminent arrival hung over my hour there like a Popular Entertainer of Damocles

Today, I've got to call Charlie Parsons, and avoid talking at nerdish length about Club X but I've just had to stop and say excitedly (but goodness me, so very soberly) that my little radio show is on a long list, to go on a short list to be nominated for not getting an award in the end after all that.
Imagine- me in a position to fail at one hurdle or another on the way to getting a Sony! Nearly as exciting as my two opportunities to do thrilling things that fell through at the back end of 2007- some telly script editing and a LE writing placement at Radio 4 (and about as likely to come to fruition).

Still, I love Sony me, I use loads of their stuff and the only bit that ever annoys me slightly is all the little interstitial disclaimer bits and animated logos I have to sit through when trying to watch an episode of Seinfeld on DVD.
It'd be nice if Sony could be prevailed upon to love me back, and maybe cut that legalese bit about none of the opinions being Sony's fault if you put the "Notes About Nothing" option on, too.

More again later in the week, when I'll know if I have a series 2 or not, and will discover how sobriety measures up against a great desire to celebrate or blot out disappointment.