Wednesday/Popular TV

Last Thursday ITV1 showed viewers what popular culture is all about when it broadcast The British Soap Awards and the Classical Brit Awards.

Eastenders swept the boards and got Best Soap, Best Actor, Best Exit, Sexiest Male, Villain of the Year, Best Dramatic Performance and Best Actress.

Betty Driver the hot-pot queen of Coronation Street won the Lifetime Achievement, but it was the tuneful popularity of the Classical Brits that surprised many. Rhydian who was a runner-up in the X-Factor was in for a best CD for his classy O fortuna and twenty man London choir Only Men Aloud won the Best CD award.

In 2008 they won the Last Choir Standing show. Rolando Villazon the chack-a-chacka judge on From Pop to Opera won as part of a Verdi Requiem.

Byrn Terfel, The Coldstream Guards and ace violinist and showman André Rieu added much to the show and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa got a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Hayley Westenra the New Zealand soprano came to fame as a result of being discovered at fifteen busking on a street.


RTE1 are doing a fine line in investigative programmes at the moment and the Prime Time Investigates look at the scandal of waste tyres was a peach of a story. Over four million tyres are cast aside every year and motorists pay at least three Euros built into the price of new tyres to have these hazardous items recycled and there is a thriving recycling business but not here in Ireland.

For years these items were dumped into landfills but since Green Minister Gormley changed the law in 2008 they should be recycled. Another example of putting a law in place but not putting in place people to deal and enforce these laws the dumpers will continue to break the law. Time and again Prime Time people confronted the culprits who just stonewalled or gave vague answers. One guy just ran away.

What is the point of making new laws if there isn’t the infrastructure to recycle tyres or the people to enforce the law in the first place.

Dreaded Nine

There is a dread in TV-land about moving shows from earlier to nine or later, and now UTV/ITV plan to move Coronation Street in a test for a week when Britain’s Got Talent will run from 7.30-9.00pm. Then the Corrie story of Tony Gordon’s dramatic breakout from prison, but can Corrie survive the shift, that plunged The Bill into curtainsville.

Soap figures and ratings are dropping and the Blanche funeral got just over 9 million with the follow-up Goodbye Blanche netting over 4 million. Difficult times, when even Britain’s Got Talent is about, a million viewers down on last year. What effect will the World Cup haave on viewing figures and ITV expect at least a 20% increase in advertising revenue.

Wasted Money

Big row brewing at BBC who dumped an hour long version of a new take on Sherlock Holmes as they now intend to extend it into a three hour mini-series. Costs of £800,000 have been mentioned and programme makers say they cannot use any of the footage shot. Could they not put it out as a pilot programme. Otherwise, it does seem like a waste of resources funded by viewers and taxpayers.


BBC2 had a minor hit with a look at how people go about marketing and selling into larger markets. Theo’s Adventure Capitalists used Dragon’s Den investor Theo Paphitis to go to Brazil and see how The Brits get on selling products. They looked at supermarkets who only have 15% of the business and that leaves in Sao Paolo alone, a network of over one million small and medium sized shops sharing the retail business. Cadburys spent billions trying to launch their various chocolate products there and eventually had to buy into existing factories at a cost over 2 billion and then their best seller was Halls cough sweets, producing 4 million sweets a day.

While Cadbury were expanding into Brazil the giant Kraft group bought them out. Ouch! Another eye-opener was the vast amount of cosmetics sold in Brazil, not in shops or supermarkets but door-to-door. Also marketing costs on internet to establish brands or ideas is very expensive indeed. Food for thought as people try to connect their product with a big market. It works for some and not for others.


The frost may have lingered this year a little bit longer but ITV have acted quickly to decide on its replacement for A Touch of Frost and have chosen another cop show. Vera, is based on a novel or three by Ann Cleeves and will star Brenda Blethyn as an obsessing workaholic detective called Vera Stanhope in the Newcastle area. Not another shambolic copper, surely. No doubt she will have personal demons and a tragic if not seedy background.


Does culture have any value? In television terms you would have to wonder when the BBC2 put out The Culture Show at 12.50 of a Thursday but if you taped it you would get a list of inspirational things and possible ideas like putting on an opera with a local cast in a church in rural Scotland, or novel ways to mount portraiture in art as part of a visual experience. What I took from the show was that you could put on an opera in Christ Church say for a few nights as part of an innovative event or festival. Michael Hunt wowed Waterford with a novel Tosca, who will follow in his footsteps?