You wouldn’t have thought it but the BBC2 programme, Off By Heart, was a wonderful gem, full of drama and innocence. Children as young as seven took part in a UK poetry learned off by heart competition and like the US Spelling Bee tv shows, it caught the public imagination and made for wonderful television. Children of all nationalities, accents and backgrounds made for a glorious mix and the filmed inserts about the final ten were marvellous snap-shots of modern multi-cultural life. I failed to select any of the final three and then failed to pick the overall winner but I loved it, very much.

Big Art

Must see on Sundays is the 7.00pm showing on C4, Big Art, where diverse communities get a chance to consider and explore possibilities about really BIG art installations in public spaces. None of yer puny black mark in Red Square or brown stalks of corn in Kilmacthomas or the bronze flower in Tramore, but big iconic art in your face, stuff like Angel Of The North in UK. In this programme ideas are challenged which has to be a good thing. Waterford could do with such Big thinking like a Spike or a Crystal tower on the Cork Road. Just look at the wonderful iconic face on the Grain Store in Ferrybank and know its impact in a short while. Apparently planners want it removed. Who plans art projects for Waterford? What’s happening about the Boy Soldier monument?


Samantha Morton made her directorial debut with a slow paced but harrowing drama, The Unloved, based on her own childhood experiences growing up at the fringes of childcare homes and fostering. The slow repetitive symbol pace was hard to take as was the awful story of casual cruelty and careworker abuse in very liberal care homes, where some official carers were more feckless than the crazy or disturbed subjects. The study follows Lucy, an eleven year old who has fallen between her disturbed uncaring mother. Robert Carlyle placed the father in a thankless role while Susan Lynch was the unredeeming mother. Time and again I had to look away and it was difficult to watch this very alienating film and not feel angry and shocked at the casual brutality of it all.

This is part of a detailed C4 look at Britain’s Forgotten Children, of which there are at least 70,000 in care and at least 20,000 at-risk at any one time.


Don’t know why the BBC pulled the outrageous comedy series Pulled, after two series on BBC3. C-writer Sharon Horgan is Irish and her scripts with Dennis Kelly were just wild, about three females who live in grotty flats and have sad mad passionate sex and relationships with an odd assortment of characters like Paul Kaye (once Dennis The Pennis). I loved it better than Little Britain and lament its passing and its crazy bonking humour.

Bloody War

It was burlap, sackcloth, wooden shields and axes, as C4 dramatised the lead of the defeat of the Vikings at Hastings in 1066. Over two nights we got such a bath of blood and savagery in a mix of narration and live action in all its bloody gore and cruelty. Lots of familiar faces in a well-made two parter. A bottle on a bridge at Stamford was light years away from a Chelsea shed but the hatred was as palpable. 

Waterloo Road

It was the last night of the fourth and possibly last series of the teachers and school drama on BBC1.

There were aspirant politicians and promisers knocking on the front door but on the tele, the school won the choir competition as an irate nutter bulldozed down the actual school. Haven’t choirs become trendy and feelgood on tele lately? But it was tear in the eye and deaf ear to the door and the promisers. Sometimes you can see be so glad of the tele and how-it-will-never-be-if-only-land. 

Back Bytes

BBC Switch: is to launch a long-running (hopefully) online soap that will get an omnibus 25 mins on BBC2 on Saturday afternoons. Each day online a five minute slot will be available for a sort of Romeo And Juliet family conflict of sorts but the writers will be flexible to see where the audience interest lies. It will be called The Cut. Audiences will be able to blog comments and feedback. The writing is expected to be quick, witty and knowing, rich in pop-culture references and a good teen base. 

F Word: Ofcom has rapped C4 for airing 115 uses of the F word between 9 and 9.40 during a two-hour special Ramsey’s British Nightmare. 

Spain’s TVE: state television network has sacked its sports chief after the channel censored boos and hissing that greeted the Spanish national anthem at the country’s football cup final. Fans of Catalan team, Barcelona and Basque team, Atletico De Bilbao, greeted the Royal March with whistles and boos when it was played before Spain’s King Juan Carlos and 55,000 spectators. As soon as the anthem started the cameras cut away to reporters elsewhere. The channel apologised at half-time but such was the phone and e-mail protests, Julian Reyes had to offer his resignation. Spain’s media observes a degree of self-censorship about royal affairs but this incident was considered a step too far.