Radio 4 News is Crap

Have you ever listened to BBC Radio 4 News? No? Well for a station that’s breeds such pretentiousness at both transmitter and receiver ends it’s absolutely rubbish.

Every in-depth news story follows the same pattern: a long, scene-setting section of background noise; a brief introduction from the reporter, filled with pregnant pauses; a short silence to indicate we’ve changed location; more background noise with an explanation over the top; and finally the rest of the report, all of which is spoken at a pace even those on a Valium overdose would find boring.

I certainly wouldn’t claim Radio 4 news was the worst out there though: it’s beaten by a country mile with the easy-to-digest morsels of news snippets dropped into the chirpy breakfast or lunchtime bulletins for those who are half-asleep, stupid, or unemployed. I’ve just discovered this video on YouTube, which sums things up nicely for those “here’s how macro-economics works: dumb-ass”-type reports.


CSI: Night Garden

There’s an interesting program running on children’s TV at the moment: “In the Night Garden” is a BBC production aimed at the 1-4 year-olds of this world. At present Lucy is 19 months, which puts her right in the middle of the age bracket for the show and she loves it. There’s a toy train called the Ninky Nonk (more later on the names) and this has her quite literally jumping up and down in excitement whenever it makes an appearance.

What I find fascinating is the fact it looks like the whole series of shows (all 100 of them!) has been made by a whip-round in the BBC production department. There’s everything in there: adults in big suits, animatronics, CGI, split-screen video overlays, green screen work, and super-size set building. Oh, and throw in a couple of giant inflatables. Basically, whatever each department could afford from what was left in the stationery budget. For kiddies I’m sure it’s a brilliant world that is much more real and engaging than my adult-cynical eyes could ever see.

Despite most of the characters being invented whilst the writers were taking something significantly stronger than aspirin, it is a charming programme. Don’t let names such as Igglepiggle, Makka Pakka, Tombliboos, the Ninky Nonk and the Pinky Ponk put you off. My personal favourite is the cute Upsy Daisy (is it wrong to think that?). She’s got a lovely little sing-song voice and added emphasis is accomplished via various intonations of the phrase “Daisy Doo”.

Today’s episode was quite entertaining: Igglepiggle lost his blanket while out walking and called on the super-sleuth pairing of Upsy Daisy and Makka Pakka to find it for him. High drama indeed for the under-5’s.

Next week, Postman Pat gets shot and the Tombliboos gather round as a first aid trio, with a display of drama and quality acting yet to be seen in Casualty.

The Audi Channel

You may be aware of “The Audi Channel”, broadcasting on one of the Sky channels up in the high 800’s.

I was flicking through the TV guide the other day and spotted a programme called “Model Hour: A8”. The synopsis looked good too: “An in-depth look at the Audi A8”, so I decided to record it. Obviously it wasn’t going to be a reasonable, balanced, review of Audi’s flagship model, but I thought an hour admiring some of the tech on a £50k+ Jaguar XJ rival would be time well spent.

How wrong I was.

The first five minutes started quite promisingly, offering a teasing glimpse at some of the various features. The car was being driven round Cambridgeshire by some wet bloke cooing over “the sleek but masculine lines”. As expected it was all puffed-up Audi-speak, with the bloke stating “Some cars evoke strange hand gestures from other road users, but in an Audi A8 people treat you with respect…”. Oh yeah? Even when you’re doing 90mph down the M40 just inches from someone’s bumper?

You could forgive that stuff really – after all it is basically a moving picture version of the Audi catalogue. But then things got really odd. Until about 30 minutes in, all that happened was a bunch of no-name presenters drove other C-list celebrities round London in the car, talking about not much in particular. I say “until”, because after that point I just switched it off. Not even Sky+ at 30x could cure me of this ill. They had Matt Dawson (some rugby bod) in the car, talking about his A4 cabriolet and getting quite anal about the subtle difference between his leather and the one on the show car. There was also someone else, whose name escapes me, but presumably they were part of the Audi fan club too.

Audi channel – don’t bother, just read the brochure out loud to yourself and watch something less boring instead.