May Contain Spoilers

I love quizzes. Some of them are my favourite TV programmes, particularly Pointless, Mastermind and University Challenge. But lately there seems to be a small contingent of people trying to spoil my enjoyment of such programmes and it is frankly getting on my wick!

You see, I time shift my TV viewing. I don’t really like being told when I should watch a programme. I nearly always record EVERYTHING I watch. The only thing I ever watch ‘live’ is the news. Everything else is generally viewed on delay.

University Challenge is one of these programmes. Now, I don’t think of myself as in any way academic or brainy, but I like to test myself and sometimes due to recall (it can hardly be called ‘knowledge’ having a penchant for remembering things), I get a few answers right and feel a little more worthy of being a human on planet earth.

Now, I don’t mind the odd spoiler on a TV programme that’s drama or documentary based, these things can be easily avoided…but when people are tweeting answers to questions on University Challenge at the time it airs, I just have to wonder why? Why? Is your life that meaningless you feel the need to try to make yourself superior in a tweet stream? You surely CANNOT tweet an answer before the student(s) give(s) it?

I find it the hight of abuse of twitter etiquette to do such a thing.

This started with one lady I recently begun following. She seemed nice and thought I’d start following her. The first Monday night this happened (the Uni Challenge answer tweets), I let it slide. The second, I unfollowed her. Call that cruel – and perhaps maybe I should have said something (I did tweet a generalised note of ire about spoilers that night), but I’m sure she’d have felt she was doing nothing wrong. Perhaps she isn’t. Perhaps I’m just too damn uptight.

But tonight is the straw that broke the camel’s back! A friend on twitter whom I have followed for some time now has started doing the same thing! Now I am finding myself caught between a rock and a hard place. I make general tweets about spoilers and my dislike of them and how I time shift my television viewing but it seems to fall upon deaf ears (or is read by blind eyes!). And now I think, do I unfollow this lady? For good, just on Monday nights? What if I forget to follow her again come Tuesday morning? Am I being too anal?

I do love social networks and I love the sharing nature of them, but there HAS to be some etiquette! I try my damnedest not to reveal spoilers. A make general remarks “it’s good” – “you’ll like it” etc. If I am going to be specific I WARN people. I try to make my book reviews on Goodreads thorough but elusive to try to avoid giving spoilers and if I have to refer to something specific I use the *spoiler* tags. but when others don’t follow the basic etiquette, that’s when I fall out of love with socials >.<

It’s Official: Tonight is Pointless!

Lol!

I watch a quiz/game show on the BBC called Pointless in which the object of the game is to score as fewer points as possible by giving more obscure answers. One hundred people are given 100 seconds to name as many things about a particular subject as they can and those that score the fewest are the best answers. Some (in which no person polled has answered) are pointless (IE; score zero) and are worth money to the jackpot amount on offer, or actually are the answers needed to win the jackpot.

In the final round, that days winning contestants get the chance to win the jackpot by providing three potentially pointless answers on a question. Only one of the answers HAS to be pointless, but they get three chances. Following?

Anyway, this was yesterday’s final round question…

THANK YOU!

As two die-hard Bowie fans (Em and I), this question could NOT have been any more perfect! It was just WHICH Bowie albums we thought would be pointless. As Bowie fans we could name ALL his studio albums in 100 seconds, and then some!

The first one I thought of was Pin Ups (and to my surprise the contestants – two young female uni students – came up with the same answer), but then I started thinking about the more recent albums. Black Tie White Noise, Earthling, Heathen (Heathen was pointless FFS!)…all of which ended up pointless.

And then, I thought of this…

Proof (if ever it were needed).

 

And so did pointless host Alexander Armstrong. Em felt VERY vindicated to see this come up. Lol. I still have a bit of time for this album but Em was so “just as I have always said, utterly pointless!” about it. Lol

By the way, the ladies didn’t get the jackpot. Their answers were Labyrinth (showing you the depth of their knowledge, hence my shock of their Pin Ups answer), Space Oddity and Pin Ups. Labyrinth was (obviously) incorrect, Space Oddity scored 7, and Pin Ups – 1! They actually got so close but, alas, no cigar.

Doctor Ten: Allons-y! **Contains spoilers**

*******This post will contain Doctor Who spoilers, so only read if you have seen both parts of The End of Time or are utterly disinterested in Doctor Who!*******

Last night saw the end of an era when David Tennant’s reign as the tenth Doctor came to an end. It is also the end of Russell T Davies’ time as head writer and executive producer on the show. And to that I say GOOD RIDDANCE!

Yes, I thank him for returning Doctor Who to our screens, unreservedly. And yes, he has delivered some fine scripts, Midnight and Turn Left being his stand outs for me. But I CANNOT forgive that final 15-20 of schmultz that had the Doctor visiting his companions and friends in one FINAL goodbye. You did that, RTD, with the series four finale (Journey’s End). You really are hell-bent on the emotional goodbye.

The Doctor’s goodbye could have been so much more befitting. David Tennant had made the character of Doctor Ten SO strong. He had gone to sacrifice himself several times over during the last four series without even a hint of regret or unwilling. And then RTD gives Doctor Ten his final words – as of a coward or wimp, “I don’t want to go”.

Before that, don’t give me the 20 minutes of schmultz. That final line would have sat better if DT’s final scenes had been played out with Bernard Cribbins (as Wilfred Mott).

I can pick holes in the whole thing. I can pick it all apart and over analyse it, but I won’t. I can’t stand the torture of it. Suffice it to say that part one disappointed me greatly and part two sat more comfortable with me until the final 15-20 minutes.

Part two should have ended with Wilf and the Doctor post nuclear lock scene. Those scenes there where the Doctor realised his demise was going to be (inadvertently) at the hands of Wilf were wonderfully played out. It should have continued. Once we were aware the Doctor had soaked up all the radiation in the nuclear lock, I’d have liked to have seen him struggle out the door, lay on the ground and have an exchange with Wilf. You could have played in nostalgia there and not let it obscure or overshadow what were glorious scenes with Bernard and David.

Then it was just stupid. Martha and Mickey married! The Doctor saves Sarah Jane Smith’s son Luke from being hit by a car (isn’t he a cyborg?), setting Jack up with a guy from a previous episode (midshipman Alonso Frame), he turns up to Donna’s wedding, leaving her a lottery ticket (WTF??!!!) and then going back to 2005 to a time before he meets Rose to tell her she’s going to have a “brilliant year”.

And of all of that 15-20 minutes, the one that made no continuity sense whatsoever was the Doctor at a book shop visiting a writer called Verity Newsome who’d released a book called “The Journal of Impossible Things” that had been in her granadmother’s (Joan Redfern) possession since 1913. I got the gist of it, was aware of the book and the character of course, but what didn’t sit right was HOW on earth the Doctor knew to go to this particular bookshop and see Joan’s granddaughter. And apart from that, the Doctor wasn’t in love with Joan, his human self as John Smith was!!!

RTD you make me SSSOOO angry.

I just had to vent and air. I could write more, but I need time, so this is enough. Enough to express my anger and disappointment. I wanted so much more for David Tennant’s final scenes.

The one positive I can take from it is that DT’s demise was ultimately SO anticlimactic that it has actually made me genuinely excited about the new series and Matt Smith as Doctor Eleven.

I think in the end David was right to leave when he did. It *was* time. I am SO looking forward to what Steven Moffat is going to do with it.

Goodbye David and Doctor Ten, you were brilliant. RTD, f*ck off outta here! Go on, piss off to L.A. See if anyone will have you there. Good luck and don’t ever write sci-fi AGAIN!

The SuBo Effect

I was listening in to Clive Bull on LBC last night when he brought up the subject of Susan Boyle. Her album release “I Dreamed a Dream” has broken records for being the highest selling debut album in UK chart history, with more than 400,000 sales in the first week of release.

Clive asked “Have you bought the album? Does she deserve the success she’s had?”. He was arguing the point that she’s an okay singer, but not GREAT. That her success was from a gimmick, IE: she looked one way and sounded another (his words). That she was just a reality TV personality that had become an instant celebrity in our obsessive celebrity culture.

I don’t think he can quite fathom the success and thinks it’s not justly deserved. Here’s my view.

We all love an underdog. Boyle is an underdog. She came across, initially, as both shy but flamboyant. A very curious mix. She looked dowdy and while speaking before her performance perhaps came across as quite deluded about her own ability. Then she sang, and people were astonished.

I do agree with Clive that her voice is not ASTOUNDING, but simply good.

America catches wind of Susan, and instead of America doing what it does best (and fixate itself purely on the aesthetic), it actually got swept up in the whole underdog phenomenon. Just for that aspect ALONE, Susan Boyle should be congratulated. To change the mindset of a whole nation is no mean feat.

There’s something of the “Eddie the Eagle” about her. The only difference is that Eddie was celebrated for being crap! He was a crap ski-jumper but people got swept up in his enthusiasm and desire to be an Olympian even though he was not the best.

Perhaps some people are a little deluded in thinking Susan Boyle’s voice is VERY good, but it never stopped Madonna fans!

She’s a case in point. No one questions her status as a pop icon, but it was very much a balance of talent, sex bomb and shrewd business woman at work there. Who could argue that Madonna’s voice is “exceptional”? No one really. Even the biggest fans would have to admit, she’s not the BEST singer in the world. But it never really gets argued because she used her sexuality to perhaps sideline the argument. Sadly, poor SuBo doesn’t have much sexuality to let the “Is her voice ACTUALLY that good” argument rest. It will always be there.

And to answer Clive’s question. No, I haven’t bought the album (and doubt I will), but I think she DOES deserve the success. Come on! It’s an uplifting “underdog achieves” story. We have too few of them these days. So let’s celebrate SuBo.

Good for her!!

Griffin Bashing and #BBCQT

I did something that I rarely do and watched an episode of Question Time last night. It seemed a “must see” piece of television as earlier in the evening the BBC faced a brunt of protests outside Television Centre with the arrival of Nick Griffin of the British National Party to the studios.

There were about 1,000 people outside the TV centre protesting against the idea that the BBC would give a voice to Nick Griffin on a political platform.

I only took in bits and pieces in last nights programme as I found myself on Twitter watching the cascading flow of tweets on twitterfall whilst people around the country tuned in to watch old goblin face.

The BNP had come under criticism the previous day for using images of Spitfire air craft and Winston Churchill at their party conferences.

The first question posed to the panel, which included Labour MP and justice secretary Jack Straw, Conservative MP Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Liberal Democrat MP Chris Huhne and Curator of the British Museum Bonnie Greer, was whether it was fair the BNP had “hijacked” Winston Churchill’s image for use in their campaigns.

Jack Straw was first respond. He said that the BNP had no right to use Churchill’s image. He said the BNP has no moral compass and says that WWI and WWII was only won with the help of many black and Asian people. He also said a race-based party has no standing in the UK.

Nick Griffin’s response to defend his party’s use of Churchill’s image was that the party chose Churchill as an image because no other party would, due to some of his political philosophies. IE: that he thought there was a real threat of over-migration and that he was worried about the impact of fundamental Islam. Griffin went on to say “I’m not a Nazi and I never have been.”

Erm…really? Then what’s this?

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He also ended with a personal attack on JS saying “My father was in the RAF in the second World War whilst Mr. Straw’s father was in prison for refusing to fight Adolf Hitler.”

What relevance this had on proceedings was hard to decipher. When host Daivd Dimbleby asked why he made this statement he said “Jack Straw was attacking me and I have been being continually attack for the last week.”

Oh, grow up man! And as for Jack Straw attacking you personally, he did nothing of the sort! I dare ask who was the braver in that time, Griffin’s father for being in the RAF (he didn’t say what role he had – my uncle was in the RAAF, but he was a chef!), or Straw’s for being a conscientious objector?

Still on the issue, Bonnie Greer pointed out that Churchill’s own mother was American and her family had possible Mohican Indian descendants, therefore questioning the BNP’s choice for Churchill’s image being that of a “British white role model” that the BNP was looking for.

Chris Huhne chimed into the discussion with his personal views on what he thought the BNP as a party, represented. He said the BNP is “scape-goating” politics. Peddling hatred and fear. Churchill would be rolling in his grave (at having his image being used by the BNP, or being associated with them). He was never a fascist.

Huhne also quoted Nick Griffin as once saying he thought “Yes, Adolf went a bit too far.” He then asked Griffin what part of “too far” did he think Hitler had gone? Slaughtering millions of Jews? Invading Poland and France? Bombing innocent people in Britain?

Griffin amongst his replies says “I brought the BNP out of being a racist party.”

WHAT THE F**K??

David Dimbleby quotes him as saying (not ver batim) “Let’s start out (the BNP) as being moderate to win votes/support. Then we’ll reveal our true agenda.” When asked about this and his involvement with David Duke he said “David Duke was the head of a non-violent arm of the KKK”. This statement had people in the audience and the other panel members in groans of disbelief.

Nick Griffin would shy away from responses to most quotes read to him of things he’d said. Jack Straw confronted him on this. He said (not ver batim) “When we give a quote of something you said you make a defence of saying ‘Oh, I never said that. That’s not quite right.’ But you are there on YouTube, in videos, actually saying these things. Time and again he (refering to Griffin, addressing the audience) wants to wriggle out of it…This guy is the Dr. Strangelove of British politics!”

A question came from an audience member asking why he believes the holocaust was a myth, Griffin said, “I cannot explain why I used to say those things, I can’t tell you (groans and shouts from the audience) any more than I can tell you why I’ve changed my mind, I can’t tell you the extent that I’ve changed my mind because the European law prevents me.”

This was dismissed as bunkum. He was asked to explain why he’d changed his mind about his denial of the holocaust and he gave some lame excuse about hearing radio intercepts of German recordings or something. Jack Straw said “Why would you need that? Were the images from Auschwitz not enough for you”?

Sayeeda Warsi revealed to the audience that he’d shared a platform with Islamic extremist Abu Hamsa after some time of discussing his views on Islam and what he thought of aspects of the Muslim faith. He said he didn’t agree with much of it. It’s treatment of women, etc.

Bonnie Greer said that Griffin starts his history at around 1700 to bypass Roman rule because it doesn’t fit in with the BNP’s “white agenda”. In Roman times there was an influx of many ethnicities, not just Romans.

Baroness Warsi says we need a cap on immigration. She also said she thought that why many people vote or support the BNP is not because they are racist but it is because they are concerned about immigration.

Jack Straw counters this by saying a party like the BNP has been in the British political system on and off since the 1930’s. That the BNP’s recent success in the European elections was NOT due to people with racist leanings voting for them, but it was purely votes gained from protests over the MP’s expenses saga.

On immigration Griffin said successive British governments were committing calculated genocide on the “indigenous white population” of Britain.

WWWHHHHHAAAAAAATT??

Bonnie Greer quoted Griffin saying the BNP are for the “indigenous Ice Age”. She replied, “But there are no people from ‘the indigenous Ice Age’ in the UK.” The UK was populated around 17,000 years ago from people from the south. They certainly didn’t come from the north. How could they get here? “We all know now that we (the population of the world) are all descended from Africa. You should know this Nick, you have a 2:2 in history. The only people who were here on this continent (Europe) 17,000 years ago, and I use the term ‘people’ lightly, were Neanderthals”. Then, speaking to Griffin personally, “You can come to the British Museum and check. We’ve got a lot of information on it. I wish you’d come.”

Then a man from the audience was offered to ask a question to the panel, he said “Yes, I have a question for Dick, er, sorry I mean Nick Griffin”.

That made all us twitterers have a little giggle. Pretending he was making a mistake with his name. It was childish, but funny.

I’m not sure if the programme itself really got anywhere. It did seem to descend into an hour of Griffin-bashing, but perhaps it was worth it just for that. It was certainly entertaining watching twitterfall for the hour the programme was on.

I’ll leve it to the man himself to finish…

Did Derren Brown Control The Nation?

He certainly didn’t control me last night!

Last night was the second of a series of programmes Derren Brown is doing titled “The Events”. Last week on the Wednesday night (9th September), he had a little ten minute programme on claiming he could and WILL predict the lottery numbers as they went out live. I didn’t watch the show, but many people did and were discussing it on Clive Bull’s show on radio LBC. He had the country talking of nothing else for the following 48 hours. He had predicted all six numbers! Everyone was talking about how he did it. There were so many theories being thrown about.

Last Friday, he told us in a programme sub-titled “How To Win The Lottery”. To keep it short it was to do with some thing called the “Crowd Influence” or something to that effect – can’t remember it verbatim. It was to do with a collective of people having better odds at predicting things and influencing results, than individuals or a small number of people (say, less than 10). He got together 24 people. They looked at all the lottery draws for the previous 12 months, then did some “automatic writing” technique to come up with sets of numbers that subconsciously they would think would be drawn next. Then used averages to come up with the final six numbers. Anyway, to cut it short again – after three attempts (September 9th being the third), they predicted all six numbers.

But right at the end of the programme he went on to say (at the beginning he outlined three plausible ways to win – randomness and luck IE: his numbers just happen to come up, the technique with the 24 people – whatever he called it again, or, cheating!) that he did NOT cheat. Then proceeded to say stuff like…for instance I would have to know someone working at Camelot (the lottery organisers), which I do not, and I’d have to get that person from Camelot to sneak in weighted balls into the draw machines, which I did not (blah de blah)…and so on until you found yourself thinking in a reverse psychology way, “is he admitting to cheating?”.

So this week it was going to be him having us quite literally GLUED to our chairs! There was about 45 minutes of waffle, with him doing all his usual little mentalist things. Just before he was about to “glue” us all to our chairs, they went for an ad break, but just before that, a subliminal image flashed on the screen.

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After they came back from the break, and just before he finished explaining what was going to happen and play the film that would have us “all glued to our chairs”, the image flashed up again. When the show was over, I rewound and grabbed a shot of the image.

The first time I saw it, I got a little disturbed, I must admit. It was a split second, but I could see it was someone sitting on a chair. It looked more like a sort of fractal crash test dummy image when I saw it for that split second. It’s even MORE disturbing now I can clearly see what it is! It played on my mind all through the break, but my mind got used to it and less and less disturbed by it. Then when it flashed again, I was ready for it.

By the time the film played, I had a little heightened sense of fear, but I was sort of assuring myself that I would NOT get stuck. As the film played, I found the music sort of soothing and wasn’t disturbed by the image at all. After the minute was up, I jumped out of the lounge saying “I’m not stuck. I’m SSSOOO not stuck!!” I was thinking “take that Derren Brown! Your mentalism didn’t work on ME. I’m no pushover!!” Then I was feeling slightly left out a few minutes later when loads of people were stuck to their chairs. Damn!

I was SO pleased with myself for not being open and susceptible to this kind of stuff. I’ve always wondered whether I could be hypnotised. Now I’m even more curious after that. But I have no plans of going to a hypnotist to find out!!

Crime Against (Supposed) Crime.

Please explain to me WHY so many people seem to be so anti-BBC?

Is it because people believe it to be a monster? Do people deem it too big for its boots? Do people believe there’s a lack of quality programming? Is it the whole Ross/Brand “Sachsgate” scandal? Are BBC bosses and controllers overpaid? Are BBC entertainers overpaid?

The debate arose again last night as I was listening to radio station LBC and Clive Bull. He started to talk about the TV licence. More to the point, trying to see if he was able to talk to one of the reported 200,000+ people that evade paying their TV licence. This figure has increased in the last financial year and he wanted to eke out whether it was purely financial reasons as to why people were no longer willing to pay their TV licence or whether something more underlying was accounting for TV licence dodging.

Clive wanted to know whether there was anyone out there happy to pay their TV licence. If it had not been so late at night and I was not so shy to make the call, I would have called in to say “me”! I WANT to pay my TV licence, because I can see what I’m getting for my money.

One man called in to say that he didn’t pay his TV licence as he no longer watched any live TV. He used his television to watch DVD’s via his DVD player. So cautious was he to evade getting grievance from the TV licensing body, that he severed his coaxial cable from the aerial on his roof. Clive pointed out that this move would be unlikely to be enough as the man’s TV would still have a tuner within it and therefore the ability to receive live television. That what the man would need to have is a computer monitor with no TV tuner within the screen.

So the man says “Right. This is where I am confused. So even though I don’t actually watch live television, because I have a TV with a tuner, I can still be deemed to be breaking the law?” Yes, says Clive. “Oh”, says the man “but that’s unfair and unclear”. In my mind I was thinking “Well, to avoid confusion or potential prosecution, I suggest you buy an LCD monitor with no tuner”, which Clive sort of went on to say himself. The man finished his conversation with Clive by saying “I’m quite anti-BBC really, but I do like their news web site. So if I’m on there and I see a link that says “watch now”, I’m breaking the law if I watch the clip?” Yes, says Clive.

The fact that the man begrudgingly confessed to using some BBC content wasn’t enough for him to think “Well, you know, maybe I should pay my TV licence?” Melon!

Do these people not think of the content that is provided to them for what amounts to 38p a day? That’s the price of a Kit-Kat! So, for the price of a Kit-Kat a day, you get advertisement free TV across eight BBC TV channels, a multitude of radio stations, including the BBC World Service. You have access to the wonderful BBC iPlayer (a chance to catch missed programmes via an online service that allows you to watch and download TV programmes and listen to radio shows for one week after original broadcast). You have online content via bbc.co.uk, including a news web site that is second to none. You also get a wealth of stunning programmes from documentaries, to drama. A lot of my favourite programmes are produced by the BBC including Doctor Who and Torchwood.

How on earth can you argue with getting that amount of content for 38p a day?!

There are so many who argue why they should pay a TV licence when they are on something like Sky. Get some perspective! Sky charges MORE for its basic service at £16.50 a month (and who, quite frankly gets Sky for its basic package? No one!), which is NOT advertisement free for that cost of subscription either, than the TV licence does. And with Sky’s basic package you are getting LESS content. Why anyone would pay to have Sky is beyond me!

Please! For those people who are hell bent on BBC bashing, please stop and think about what we have here in this country. A multimedia service that is revered around the world for providing quality and excellence and costs us all (well, those who pay it) a Kit-Kat a day.

Clive asked last night “So if people aren’t paying their TV licence, what are the consequences? I can see the consequences of people not paying car insurance, premiums go up. Does this mean TV licence dodgers will make the TV licence go up? What *ARE* the consequences?”

Well, surely the consequences would be programming and services will suffer. That perhaps something like Doctor Who would not have been put back on the screen, and certainly not with the love and financial backing it has received to make it more popular than ever.

The BBC news site would just be like some other ramshackle news site where you have to tread through mud to see content that is most relevant to you.

Things like the BBC Action Line would get cut. It’s there for people who may need to seek guidance or advice from seeing story lines in dramas or topics in documentaries that affect people greatly. Discussions on rape or medical conditions, cancer, mental health issues, etc, the BBC Action Line is a point of call for people to turn to if they want to discuss with someone how a certain subject in programming has affected them.

Funding for things like that would just cease to be.

I just urge people to please think about what they get for their 38p a day before they slag it (the BBC and TV licensing) off.