As in life so in death, Michael Jackson, the Prince of Pop, now King, changed tv schedules and millions all over the world watched the memorial tribute with a mixture of awe and sorrow. I wasn’t a fan – no doubt a generational thing – but this tribute and going-to-the-church at a showbiz arena (a small one) caught me and held me in a most poignant embrace, with lots of love and lots of spirituality and old-style religion, more than excess or extravaganza. His oldest son chewed gum and his daughter brought fame down to family basics – I just want to say that ever since I was born, daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine.
Out of the mouths of Babes. A choir sang We’re Going To See The King. A brother sang the Charlie Chaplin song, Smile, even though your heart is aching. Smile even though it’s breaking.
In a strange way for a tribute, the video montage showed images about his cosmetic surgery and aspects of his private life and Civil Rights activist, Al Sharpton, touched on his abuse allegations – There was nothing strange about your daddy, it was strange what your daddy had to deal with. Rest in peace Michael.
The sheer power of storytelling from the BBC Doctor Who Team brought Torchwood to a new level of gruesome entertainment as Captain Jack kissed his male buddy goodbye and over five nights, like a mini-series, did battle with aliens to save millions of the world’s children. Children Of Earth was sockaroony stuff, great dramatic editing, great action, great tension and a great cast with John Barrowman as Jack and you couldn’t but think that he has seriously upstaged the new Doctor Who with a whirlwind of an emotional performance. Compressing it into five nights racked up the tension and covered over the holes in the plot.
Strange in a way that C4 can do topical and meaningful programmes like their Revelations series when they looked at Muslim School, at one of over 140 Muslim faith schools in Britain. It followed two young subteens at Nottingham Islamia that mixed their national curriculum with Arabic and Islamic studies. Zara aged seven, was a third generation Muslim who was getting a Muslim education unlike her sisters or her mother. Then there was Aysha aged twelve whose mother married a Pakistani and wanted her brought up in the family faith.
While the programme offered no judgement or answers, it was a gentle look at multi-culturalism through early education and I did find it disquieting to hear a little girl speak about punishments and hellfire if the hijab wasn’t worn. It was a shock to find out that Aysha was a redhead who was bullied because of it in a state school. The gentle innocence of these two girls was a reassurance in a difficult world where religious opinions can be polarised so quickly.
You get all sorts of comedy ideas tested out during the dog days of rainy summers and the choice is a weird mixture of non-humour, psychotic madness, fart jokes, irritable bowel jokes and C4 have The Inbetweeners, about four school-going teenagers who would never have made it on Grange Hill with their crude sexual innuendo, rudeness and yet some very funny jokes like farts in a lap-dancing club. BBC have the cream of the crop on BBC4 with Jo Brand as a nurse in an under-funded sad geriatric home where a woman dies and cannot eat her birthday cake. Over half the opening show was taken up by excretement on a ward chair. Was it a stool, a faecal deposit or a research subject. Nobody dared use the S word . . . more’s the pity.
Then there’s Taking Flax on BBC2, using real life news people people in some African turmoil, where you can book a room on the shooting side or the bombs side. Plus a running farting irritable bowel joke and an exploding dog. That leaves you with BBC2 and Psychoville with those weirdos from Royston Vaisey, Shearsmith and Pemberton where Pemberton is light years from his hit in Benidorm. But when you get a laugh it is hilarious.
SYFY: Does a name matter? To NBC Universal it does, so they decided their acquired Sci-Fi channel needed a brand new image and so they decided to dumb it down to Syfy. They then discovered that Syfy in Poland is slang for syphilis. It is a wonder they didn’t want to change that to Sfilis. It used to be called Galloping Nobrot once!
Merlin: Freemantle, who make Merlin for BBC, have now sold the series to 52 other channels. Wizard or what?
X-Factor is now a multi-platform hit, with a website attracting 10 million hits, 80 million page impressions and 21 million video clips. It also did incredible business of mobile phone downloads, ringtones, wallpaper and a game. A digital dream.
Coronation Street is to shift from Wednesdays in an ITV shakeup, due to the extra soccer coming up next season on that channel. Corrie has gone out on Wednesdays for 50 years. Now there will be two Corrie episodes on Thursday with two hours of soaps from Emmerdale and Corrie from 23rd July.