Kneale Before Nigel

‘Celebrity’ Big Brother vindicates Nigel Kneale

The Year of the Sex Olympics

Anybody remember a 1968 programme called The Year of the Sex Olympics? Basic plot: population of the world starts to get out of control so the powers that be decide to keep the populace in check by beaming them pornography all day. But guess what? They get bored. There’s only so much porn people can watch before it gets a bit dull (take note Men and Motors). So the powers that be come up with a new idea: reality TV. Stick a family on an island and monitor them 24/7. Then, to really shake things up, stick a criminal on the island and see what happens. The result? People get glued to that all day instead.

It was a remarkably prophetic piece of television, albeit quite dull to watch, unlike the rest of writer Nigel Kneale’s output. What’s even more remarkable is Channel 4’s decision to compress The Year of the Sex Olympics’ plot and stick all its elements into one programme: Celebrity Big Brother.

So we have a bunch of dull people, aka ‘the family’ (Rula Lenska, Faria Alam, Preston Samuel, Maggot, Pete Burns and Chantelle the stooge), pornography (Jodie ‘glamour model’ Marsh, Traci ‘Baywatch’ Bingham) and criminals (well, alleged criminals Michael Barrymore and George Galloway as well as the definitely criminal Dennis Rodman), all stuck into handy half-hour segments for our exploitation/tranquillisation. How Brave New World of Channel 4. I guess our attention span ain’t what it used to be.

Even so, the irony is that given the complete Z-list nature of the ‘celebrities’, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a ratings flop. Our attention span really ain’t what it used to be and minor celebs just don’t aren’t enough any more.

Still, my prediction for the winner? Maggot. All of Wales will be voting for him. Let me know if I turn out to be right: I won’t be watching…

What author double-acts would you like to see in movies?

Following the news that WB is planning a movie in which Shakespeare and Cervantes become friends and bum around Europe together (or solve crimes. Who knows?), I wondered which other authorial double acts you’d all like to see in the movies. Let me know.

Here’s a few to get you started:

  1. Martin Amis and Harold Pinter: “when two authors clashed over their views on modern-day American Imperialism, it was murder”
  2. J D Salinger and F Scott Fitzgerald: “Their first names a secret, their attitude insouciant, they came to change nothing, but left having changed everything”
  3. Enid Blyton and Raymond Chandler: “Who you nodding at, kiddo? This ain’t toy town any more!”
  4. Daniel Defoe and Jonathan Swift: “It was a journey greater than any they’d written about, but they would be back by Friday”

Futurama may get a reprieve


We’ve talked before about Fox’s nasty habit of cancelling quality shows and how it seems finally to have developed a quality filter. Now, there’s nothing harder for a TV executive to do than to say they were wrong. But it seems Fox has learnt its lesson over Futurama and is contemplating bringing the show back after it scored success on DVD.

I’m not a big fan of Futurama but it was still a good show, killed before its prime. Off the top of my head, I can name quite a few shows that also bit the dust in the US before they should have as I’m sure you can. But the interesting aspect of this is that DVDs are now enabling networks to spot recent shows that were good but low-rated because of poor advertising or scheduling. Anyone want to run a sweepstake on what the next show they’ll bring back from the dead will be?

EMAP planning an FHM radio station

While I can see vaguely where Dee Ford, head of EMAP’s radio business, is coming from, the idea of an FHM radio station seems, erm, odd. How many people does she think buy FHM for the articles? And what’s the content going to be like?

FHM DJ: Hi Sarah Dunn from Hollyoaks! Sit down. Love the bikini, by the way. Let me describe it to the listeners at home…

I imagine that Dee Ford is thinking of something only loosely associated with ‘Junior Playboy’ – probably something along the lines of a radio station that plays the kind of music 17-year-old boys without girlfriends like. (You may think I’m stereotyping, but back in the 90s, the ad team at FHM used to pitch the mag to advertisers as “being read by teenage males without much experience of women”. I have no idea if they still do…).

And isn’t there a risk that a mediocre FHM radio station would risk tarnishing the print brand’s great image? Oh, what am I thinking…?

Disclaimer: I do some work for EMAP from time to time. Only for Broadcast though, not for FHM