A Black Peter Badge?

Black Mirror - Fifteen Million Merits.jpg

(image removed on request)

As the whole world knows, there are two types of Blue Peter badge; an ordinary one which you get for sending something into the programme, and a gold one which is awarded rarely for something special – like saving a life.  Such is the Mary Poppins–like image of Blue Peter that it came as a great surprise to me to learn that not only is there a silver Blue Peter Badge but also that Connie Huq – the longest-running presenter of the programme – is the partner of Charlie Brooker, creator of Black Mirror and the sneering anchor of a series of news satire programmes collectively known as ‘Wipes’.  Not only that, but Huq co-authored one of the best Black Mirror episodes, ’15 Million Merits.’  This takes place in a future world where work and its rewards are virtual: those at the bottom of the heap ride exercise bikes which power the TV series that everyone else watches.  It’s the ambition of every biker to get on one of these programmes.  Sound familiar?


I can’t be bothered to review the programme here, especially as OH has done a much better write-up:


And whaddayaknow?  I thought I was just being cute combining Blue Peter with Black Mirror, but there actually is a Black Peter.  In the folklore of the Low Countries he is the companion of Santa Claus:

Knecht Ruprecht - Wikiwand

I had a picture prepared but I strongly suspect it’s a white woman blacked up, so I’m posting this one instead.  I will, however, post a link to today’s radio 4 ‘Point of View’ which is about ways in which we police ourselves:


Kirk out


But Is It News?

Oh noooooooooooo!  I just heard the first few seconds of The Archers omnibus today and it went something like this:

Ruth:  Oh Deh-vid!  Than’ god!  Are yew all reit?

David: Yes, we’re all fine!

Ruth:  And the boiys?

David:  Fine, all fine.  But Freda’s in hospital.

Ruth:  Oah noah!

At which point I turned it off.  It just proves my point from yesterday, that soaps have to keep inventing more and more disasters to retain people’s interest; unfortunately I no longer cared what calamity had caused Ruth and David to have this conversation.  Turns out it was a flood.


Oh Noah!


But is it news?  This is the question I’ve been asking myself today – not about the Archers, but about various comedy programmes which generally Take the Piss out of the news.  The best of these on offer right now is Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe, which as far as I’m concerned, er – wipes the floor with Have I Got News for You and its radio counterpart, The News Quiz.  I think HIGNFY has got predictable these days; a bit formulaic.  We more or less know which news items are going to come up and what they are going to say about them.  Much sharper was The Day Today, a very clever programme which took the mickey out of the style of news programmes rather than their content: the whizzy graphics, the kind of language the newscasters use (‘news-speak’?) and so on:


It was very funny but it’s in the nature of these things to have a limited shelf-life and so it only ran for one series.  Alan Partridge’s career as sports reporter began on The Day Today.

But astonishingly that was 20 years ago – and now comes Charlie Brooker with his brand of humour which is not so much irreverent as downright blasphemous.  Charlie Brooker – like Jeremy Clarkson, now that I come to think of it – doesn’t give a toss.  He doesn’t mince words or try to avoid offending anyone; for example he describes Fifty Shades of Grey’s Christian Grey as a ‘sort of lego Colin Firth who initially seems like any other besuited piss-hat but it transpires he has predilections as appears when he turns up at Anastasia’s DIY store in what closely resembles a Two Ronnies tribute.’

That is just about two seconds of the tightly-packed wit that bursts forth from this programme.  You have to listen carefully to get it all, and I just laugh through each of its 28 minutes.  There’s a ‘Day-Today’ type bit in the middle of this episode when they talk about how numbers are taking over everywhere – but then it goes kinda weird.  We are both sure (hubby and I, that is) that we’ve seen the item about ISIS before.  And I think what happened was that they had a spot lined up all about Clarkson and they were told to pull it out at the last minute (fnarr, fnarr!) because the whole ‘did-he-or-didn’t-he-punch-a-producer-oh-wait-he’s-sort-of-admitted-it-in-an-I-don’t-give-a-toss-way) fiasco.

Or farrago.  Or something.

So we reckon he had to replace said Clarkson item by a previously-broadcast bit on ISIS.

Anyway, here’s the latest programme:


Kirk out

Sounding Off

Sound Cafe is GO!  It is a rocket which has launched and is now heading towards the planet AMAZING.  Today we had a feedback and pat-on-the-back time following up from Saturday’s astounding and stuponkous (yes, it’s a word!)* concert.  The feedback session was celebratory and my poem was mentioned in dispatches, which was nice.  I said the audience were so supportive that we felt like family, and lots of people commented that the Sound Cafe choir was not so much on another level from the other choirs, as different from it.  The applause was in no way ‘nice’ or patronising, and considering that we’d only been properly rehearsing for three weeks, it was – well, stuponkous.
There is no other word.
Here is the Radio Leicester report on the event: photos and newspaper reports to follow:
It’s 2 hours 24 mins in.
I have great plans for the poetry there, including a pamphlet and a performance, so watch this space.  Meanwhile, here’s how you can donate to Sound Cafe: phone Helen on 07867963328 to give a one-off donation or, better still, become a friend of Sound Cafe.  We also need volunteers – see Roz’s comment on my post about the concert below:
In other news, Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe is back on TV.  I love Charlie Brooker: his pull-no-punches, acerbic and utterly hilarious reviews of the week’s news are an absolute delight, so catch up with last week’s while it’s still on.
I’m thinking of becoming more like him, and ending these posts by saying: ‘That’s all, so until next time: Go Away!’
That’s all – so until next time…
Go away.

* no, it isn’t but like Humpty-Dumpty I decided it’s a word if I say it is

But it’s ahl uver nye…

Give me a ‘D’!

Give me a yawn!

Give me two fingers down the throat!

Don’t give me a f*ck!

What’s that spell?

Oh, yes – it’s the latest highly speculative, couldn’t-give-a-flying-thingy, non-story about the Duchess of Wherever-it-is who is expecting what will probably become the ayr to the thryne.  She was said to have mentioned the ultrasound scan of her ‘d-‘, thus prompting feverish and, frankly, unbalanced speculation as to whether that ‘D’ could possibly stand for… oh, I can’t be bothered; you can fill in the rest.  And I’m not going to give you a link to the story either – just get a life!

If I sound a little testy this morning – not to mention exhibiting some odd spellings – it’s because I’ve discovered Charlie Brooker.  This man is not merely rude – as, say, someone like Jeremy Paxman is, sneering at undergraduates who can’t instantly reproduce the answer he has in his sweaty little fist – he is intelligently rude.  It’s the kind of rudeness that stems from actually caring about whether stuff is good or not, and weeding out the pretentious and worthless.  Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe is witty, thoughtful and, yes, rude – but not in a gratuitously offensive way, just in an intelligent way.  Go watch:


Having said all that, you may wonder why I am lapsing into some weird spellings this morning.  It’s this: that I really like a Northern Irish accent.  They kind of squeeze and squash their vowels in an unexpected way and it’s just – oh, I don’t know – different.  Our national life has become so bland and boring that whenever anyone genuinely eccentric comes on, they are seized on, packaged, marketed and served up over and over for about five minutes or until everyone gets tired of them.  So about the only way people are allowed not  to be clones nowadays is in retaining their accent.  So let’s treasure Eamon Holmes, Caron Keating (RIP) and anyone else who still has some vestige of individuality.

Without being gratuitously rude, of course.

Kirk out