Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Retroactive timey-wimey influence thingy...

Rather desperately, a number of newspapers have been trying to suggest that the crackpot Workers' Institute of Marxism–Leninism–Mao Zedong Thought (WIMLMZT) were the "insipration" for John Sullivan's BBC1 sitcom Citizen Smith.

The Guardian, for example, claims:

"The group's beliefs were regularly mocked in the diary column of the Times newspaper, bringing speculation that it became the part-model for the Tooting Popular Front, the ludicrous political movement set up by Robert Lindsay in Citizen Smith, a BBC sitcom that began broadcasting in 1977." Source

The problem here is that the first diary column in The Times to mention the WIMLMZT was the one of 19 April 1977, under the heading "Now the good news from Brixton" - exactly a week after the transmission of the Citizen Smith pilot in the Comedy Sprecial strand on BBC1 on 12 April! It was the case that Sullivan first showed the script to producer Dennis Main Wilson in a BBC bar eight weeks before that transmission,[1] but obviously it certainly hadn't been written overnight. The unfortunate reality is that there was plenty of inspiration for Wolfie Smith's hapless and hopeless would-be revolutionary, but the WIMLMZT is highly unlikely to be among them.

[1] Television sitcom production at the BBC 1973-1984: an integrated approach

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Sunday, 7 July 2013

Not forgotten

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Not fogotten

Friday, 6 April 2012

Just who does Samantha Brick think she is?

That's a question that a lot of people have been asking in the last few days, but I'm going to look beyond the ostensible issue of whether its specifically her self-declared beauty alone that is the root of all her problems.

Appearing on This Morning on Thursday, Eamonn Holmes asked her: "Is this all just a publicity stunt, and we've all fallen for it... Three days ago nobody had heard of you." Brick demurred: "I live in the middle of France. I live in the middle of the countryside, with my husband and our dogs. I'm a housewife first and foremost, I write part-time around my chores at home...."

That, it seems, is not much of a back-story, and one could be forgiven for thinking that the neophyte image may explain what some have taken to be naïveté on her part. She doesn't know what she's got herself into, because she's "just a housewife," right?

Or is she?

Brick actually has a fair bit of form when it comes to articles for the Daily Mail, which seem to hide self-loathing in a cloak of arrogant indignation. Apart the diet and beauty tips, these range from her bad times with "man-child" first husband "Jack" or "Damian" (depending on which story he's mentioned in), to an idyllic life in France with new French husband Pascal, even though he happily says he'll divorce her if she gets fat (and said as much to her parents on their first meeting!), and that he calls the shots on what she wears. So far, so control freak.

"Pascal Brick" - as he has frequently been referred to - looms large in Samantha's work for the Mail, and much humour has been been aimed in his direction, mainly due to his Village People-esque moustache, the visible podge hanging over his own belt in the piece about him not wanted her to get fat (!), and the fact that one photograph sees him in camouflage and brandishing a rifle, ready to lay waste to the local wildlife. But what of Life Before Pascal?

The top page of Brick's own website labels her a writer, journalist, and "award-winning producer." The latter, in fact, ties in with a couple of her pieces for the Mail. The first - "Catfights over handbags and tears in the toilets" - back in April 2009 describes the failure of Brick's independent TV production outfit, which she had hoped would be, "a female-only company with happy, harmonious workers benefiting from an absence of men." Although this sounds like an industrial tribunal waiting to happen (being a practical illegality, I would have thought), this failure was blame-absolvingly down to "the recession." In the article, Brick says that previously she, "was working as a TV executive producer making shows for top channels such as MTV, and based in Los Angeles."

In another piece for the Mail, from July 2010 - subtly titled "How TV is run by sexist pigs who only want one thing (and it’s not ratings)" - Brick describes in rather vague terms a long career in television, culminating in the aforementioned failure of her own company. The salient details include:
"My first job in TV was at the then London Weekend Television in 1993 - as a researcher in the current affairs department."

"My own career trajectory was down to sheer hard work and, despite the rejection of my boss’s friend during my time at ITV, by 1999, at the age of 29, I was appointed head of entertainment at Sky One."
Returning to Brick's website, the page on her television work states:
"Samantha is an award-winning producer and has worked in television for nearly twenty years, producing TV shows in the UK and the US. She has worked with global names, including; the Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson, David Beckham, Jordan/Katie Price, Sadie Frost, Pearl Lowe and the Primrose Hill set. She has made documentaries and reality shows for every major channel, including ITV, BBC and Channel 4 in the UK and in the US MTV, Fox and Bravo – amongst others."
It goes on to state that she, "ran Sky One’s successful entertainment department," gave the likes of Tess Daly and Russell Brand their TV breaks, followed by a stint in Los Angeles, "devising, pitching then exec-producing TV reality shows," before returning to the UK to start her own company. Amidst all that, though, there is only one programme she worked on identified by name: "producing, directing and co-creating the award winning series Ibiza Uncovered."

This sent me rummaging for my VHS tapes of said series, but reviewing the credits for the first episode revealed that the producer/director on it was Daniela Neumann. Persevering, I worked out that "Sam Brick" was actually the producer/director on episode 3 and 8 of the first series (with four others in the rôle on the remaining five episodes), although there was no creator credit on either it or the second series.

Armed with the version of her name that Brick had used professionally, she proved easy to find. Her IMDB page provides a fair few credits corroborating her own name-dropping, whilst elsewhere her meteoric rise through TVland is documented stage-by-stage.

Brick started at LWT, which made Ibiza Uncovered for Sky in 1997. In November 1999 Broadcast reported that while working as a producer for Hat Trick Productions, she was poached by Sky, "to become an executive producer with commissioning responsibilities for Sky One output." According to Music Week, by 2000 she was head of factual and entertainment programming for Sky, and in November 2001 it was reported that she had been poached by September Films. After working for September Films USA in Los Angeles, she returned to the UK to set up Sam Brick Entertainment Ltd. in mid-2005. Less than a year later, the company's first commission was Chubby Children for Living TV.

So what does all this tell us? Well, apart from the fact that we clearly shouldn't be calling hubby "Pascal Brick" (on balance, it seems highly unlikely he would have taken her surname!), it's pretty obvious that Brick herself is actually a hardened and seasoned media professional, rather than the naïve housewife writing part-time, as she has tried to suggest, and which sadly the rest of the industry seems happy to go along with. I mean, I'm assuming that her past career is known about, even if her fellow hacks and luvvies are choosing not to mention it as context to the whole story?

It also, of course, adds a very different dimension to Brick's apparent neuroses. Contrary to the impression of ordinariness she has tried to project (apart from her looks, of course), she has in fact spent the majority of her working like in an environment quite divorced from the everyday reality of the majority of the population, whether female or male. It is little wonder, then, that she has not only such a skewed view of the world, but also of how she thinks the world sees her....

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Thursday, 3 November 2011

What's wrong with this picture...?

When you're waiting on Underground station platforms, you're kind of forced to look at the posters, but most are forgotten by the time the train actually arrives. When I spotted this one yesterday, though, I had a nagging thought that there was something not quite right about it.

I mean, it seems a fairly ordinary aerial view of London, representing something that the organisers of the 2012 Festival think is appropriate to their event. The capital, obviously, embodied by familiar architecture such as Tower Bridge in the foreground, London Bridge beyond, City Hall, the new Shard...

But there was something missing, I was sure of it... something that should be clearly visible, but isn't...

Take a closer look:


Unfortunately, I haven't got a genuine picture from the same view, or even from Tower Bridge, but this one is taken sort of from the reverse angle:


Now, I might be wrong, but I'm pretty certain HMS Belfast hasn't been moved lately, and certainly not while the Shard's been under construction. So obviously one of the biggest tourist attractions in London doesn't meet with the approval of the organisers of the 2012 Festival, not even the fact of the ship's involvement in a little kerfuffle 70-odd years ago, the result of which means we actually have the freedom to enjoy things like the 2012 Festival.

It's even more surprising that the press doesn't seem to have noticed this piece of outrageous Photoshop revisionism.

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Thursday, 7 July 2011

Not forgotten

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Prince Philip 90 today

On Prince Philip's 90th birthday, we seem to be affectionately celebrating his famous verbal gaffes, so looking back to a report in The Daily Express of 2 April 1957, let's remind ourselves they're by no means a new trait! The day before he had attended the London premiere of Yangtse Incident - The Story of HMS Amethyst - a fitting patron, given his sterling service with the Royal Navy during the Second World War on the destroyers HMS Wallace (during the Invasion of Sicily), and HMS Whelp in the Pacific....
    Last Night was blue moon night for Prince Philip.
    He was walking along a line of six petty officer survivors of H.M.S. Amethyst, at the premiere of the film Yangtse Incident in the foyer of the Plaza Theatre.
    Commander Kerans of the Amethyst was making the introductions. Prince Philip said a word here, and a word there.
    Then he stopped squarely in front of the third man, Chief Petty Officer Leonard Williams, who was senior engine room artificer in the Amethyst.
    "And what ship are you serving now?" asked Prince Philip.
    C.P.O. Williams looked surprised. He gulped slightly. "In the royal yacht, Sir. I've been in her three and a half years, Sir."
    Prince Philip looked shocked. Then confused. His face turned pink. He mumbled an apology, and went on down the line.
    A couple of seconds later he was back again in front of C.P.O. Williams, blushing hard.
    "I'm really very sorry; what a blunder I've made... the biggest blunder ever," said Prince Philip.
    C.P.O. Williams, 37, stocky, and reliable, rose magnificently to the occasion when the Amethyst wanted everything she had from the engine room of the Amethyst, was up to this one too.
    He just smiled quietly and said: "That's all right, Sir - one can't remember everybody."


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