Turn up. Trade in. Help Out.

I admit that I feel like a bit of a thief, what with stealing the following from the Amazing Radio blog! But it’s pretty cool news, and hopefully will get more people listening to DAB digital radio. All digital radios come with FM recievers (some AM too if you’re that way inclined) and there are some great quality stations available such as BBC Radio 6 Music and of course, my new employers Amazing Radio.

So Spread the word… and get listening!

Radio Amnesty – Because you’re worth it

Friday, May 21st, 2010 | Kevin Read | Blog

You’ll hear some ads on Amazing Radio from tomorrow. We’ve not carried ads since our Amazing Christmas campaign but this is another great initiative designed to get you a cheaper DAB radio whilst opening up a world of opportunities to children in South Africa.

Radio Amnesty 

The lovely people at getdigitalradio.com are offering an amnesty on your poor old radio. The plan is simple, you trade in your old radio and get a discount on a snazzy new DAB radio from one of a host of retailers. For more information on the amnesty and how it works, head on over to http://www.getdigitalradio.com/digital-radios/radio-amnesty where you’ll also find details of how the scheme will help the Children’s Radio Foundation and UNICEF in Southern Africa.

Another thing about Skins.

A year or so ago I wrote a blog post questioning the content of the trail for the ‘next generation’ of Skins, aka series three. It wasn’t particularly approving, perhaps because I was a tad sensitive about a fireworks-in-a-night-club disaster and the fireworks-in-a-pub-lark of the ad (that debuted a few days later) felt a tad insensitive.

It’s testament to the popularity of the show that according to WordPress, that post was one of my most read.

I haven’t blogged properly for a while. I’ve been busy. And somewhat unmotivated – should I be writing this when I have so many other things to be writing. Personally I think that of course the answer is yes; that if something affects me deeply enough then I should rush to my macbook, flip it open and type away. But then other people might be writing and I’ll be saying nothing new – it’s exactly the same with your typical undergraduate essay. At the end of the day, you do it anyway.

So quickly I’ll address the BBC 6Music debate. What this should tell the BBC is that the station needs development and a bit of TLC – and then more people will tune in. They should consider this publicity as good and gain a bigger picture of what people want and expect. Commercial radio is nothing like BBC radio -and thank goodness for that. Although sometimes I feel that the Radio 1 playlist is too similar to sister station 1Xtra and requires a tad more diversity (which is beginning to seep in again with the likes of Mumford & Sons etc,) oh and requires DJs rather than personalities/TV presenters, for me there should be no question of whether 6Music should stay or go. Of course it should stay, and of course all the people who claim to support it should go out and buy a digital radio (or stick a bookmark to the online player in their browser.)

I shall talk about the plans to axe BBC Blast in a post sometime soon – or will post something on 4Talent’s blog. I have been part of Blast. To be blunt, it would be a disaster for thousands of people like me. Opportunities are hard to come by, Blast vastly multiplies them.

Anyway. Back onto my former topic. At the beginning of tonight’s Effy centred Skins episode, the penultimate of series 4 and the current ‘generation,’ I said to my housemate “I’m not sure if they’ll recommission this.” Not because I think that they shouldn’t, but simply because with each new generation of cast and characters, the concept will become more and more watered down. The original viewers will grow older and perhaps further away as they become less satisfied with characters they no longer consider ‘classics.’ Added to this central characters Naomi and Pandora (sob) have not had their own episodes this year (budget cuts at C4) and fans may be unhappy with this.

Tonights episode was a slow burner. How does one deal with mental illness but retain the usual Skins ‘sheen’? (which is more of a layer of fabulous grime and a hint of smoke.) How do you try and settle the love triangle of Cook-Effy-Freddie once and for all without repeating former narratives? How do you literally make the audience sit up from the calm pace of an occasionally stilted episode and beg for the finale?

In the case of Skins co-creator Jamie Brittain, you take a tip from Dad and you force them to. I still feel slightly dazed, sickened even by the final moments of this evening’s episode. I used ‘sickened’ in place of shock – really I should say shock, but I’m the easily scared type. If you’ve not seen the episode then don’t read on. If you’re not planning on watching and I can’t convince you to then read on and then watch it (4od.)

At the end of the episode we were presented with a typical ‘Freddie-confronts-a-character’ scene. Only, when Freddie tried to leave confronted character’s house (Effy’s creepy counsellor who was somewhat reminiscent of Tony’s admissions tutor in his episode of series 2) The homeowner walked up the stairs towards the tiny landing Freddie could not escape from (locked door) with a pristine, white baseball bat. Cut to white door, frosted glass doorframe. Yells, thuds, bloodsplatter. Silence.

I sat on the sofa watching this and couldn’t move, just for a moment. Although there have been deaths in Skins (the wonderful Chris in series 2, Sid’s father; both beautifully written moments, and of course Sophia in the series opener which I was involved in the filming of,) This however, was something entirely new. There has been an element of choice in the previous deaths with suicide, avoiding medication and hedonistic lifestyles playing a major factor. Murder is something entirely different, a completely original element thrown into the mix and something that could possibly save the series from being known as the least engaging of the four. What was particularly interesting about the last moments of the episode was the trail for the final episode. It seems that Freddie’s 20 year old sister Karen, will be the focus. Karen featured far more heavily in the previous series and I do feel that the final episode will benefit from her return – it also means that the final episode of series 3, which was another love triangle centred episode is unlikely to be repeated in a different format.

I for one will certainly be glued to the TV come next Thursday!

We are coming…

On the brilliant blog of James Moran (chief writer of Torchwood: Children of Earth‘s third episode) a post on tuesday 7th July foretold;

 ‘I predict the internet will *explode* when you see a certain something through a security camera feed.’

I bet Moran himself was thrilled to find out that John Barrowman had agreed to a brief full frontal nude shot…until finding out that the writer for episode two had called it. I guess that left him just one option…subliminally tell his readers that compared to Wednesday’s episode, Tuesdays was a ‘load of old spuds’ writing;

‘potatoes play a very significant role at a crucial moment.’

…Anyone would think Torchwood was set in Ireland?!

Just kidding, James Moran is an experienced writer and sings the praises of his co workers, including Russell T. Davies (RTD.) Over on 4OD I have been having an RTD fest, devouring (if thats an appropriate term) Queer as Folk and Queer as Folk 2, which despite appearing a real product of the nineties, show RTD’s real flair for subtly outlining characters to the point where they feel like next door neighbours. I’ve reserved a book at my local library called ‘Doctor Who; The Writer’s Tale‘ by RTD which features emails from the writer to Doctor Who’s Executive Producer. Internet reviews have all been generous in their praise so I’m looking forward to getting stuck in and hopefully learning a little on the way…

Are you enjoying Torchwood? Let me know (comments, @Getfrank, snail mail….)

Swine Flu – How to strike the balance between fear and ignorance

The current subject of major international focus is the Swine Flu.  Of course, you don’t need me to tell you that – it’s probably the most talked about thing on the internet right now, seemingly stealing the focus from the ever depressing recession. Being a student I’ve felt slightly cushioned from the talk of unemployment and bankers’ distress, preferring to concentrate on my deadlines and my final year of study before I’m thrown into a world of economic turmoil.

When I last checked today, just before starting write this article, it seems that there have been 91 cases of Swine Flu confirmed by laboratory testing in America (51 of those in New York) and sadly one death (a child in Texas.) There have been five UK cases affirmed, with one woman being treated from her home in Redditch. On the TV as I am currently writing a news anchor reports from outside a health centre in Northfield reporting that ‘we must hope that the threat in the West Midlands remains mild’ and that a victim’s uncle could not obtain tamiflu from 6 different pharmacies. If this was a confirmed case of tamiflu then I am sure that the patient would have been given tamiflu directly by the hospital so I’m not entirely sure what that victim was suffering from… (I’d been briefly watching Newsnight on the other side…)

The following was published from this article on the BBC news website:

The BBC’s Alex Bushill in Paignton, Devon

No school expected to be at the centre of a national media storm, but for the pupils of Paignton Community and Sports College in south Devon, there were to be even more shocks and surprises.

A little after 1300 BST this afternoon, the 2,000 pupils were told that one of their friends had contracted swine flu from a recent trip to Mexico. They did not know it, but already satellite vans and cameramen were gathering outside the school gate and the prime minister had announced on the floor of the Commons that a 12-year-old girl at the school was ill with the virus.

Although she is now responding well to drugs, there is a great deal of anger amongst parents and pupils alike that they were not told in advance.

In amongst the tears, parents came to collect their children as the school was closed. Reeling not just from the shock that swine flu had arrived on their doorstep, but in the manner that they had heard the worrying news.

It is the content of stories like the one above that make me worry about the way that the potential pandemic is being handled. The fact that 2,000 students and their parents reacted with hysteria surely reflects what a nation constantly accompanied by the media must be enduring. I myself have become uneasy this evening particularly after seeing footage of Dr Margaret Chan of the World Health Organisation officially raising the alert over the level of swine flu to 5 – one away from the level of ‘pandemic (human – human transmission in two countries.) This means that countries must ready their ‘pandemic preparedness plans.’ In Britain this appears to be stockpiling as many doses of tamiflu as possible (and hoping that the virus does not mutate to become untreatable.)

All of this is news that we, as members of the public are perfectly entitled to of course and most coverage by the media has been greatly informative, particularly by sites such as the BBC. However, for the next few weeks I would not even consider buying a tabloid newspaper for fear of seeing sensationalized pictures or ‘survivors stories.’ For example this story on The Sun’s website starts to read as a fairly factual piece until a silly picture of random people arriving at Heathrow airport is followed by text in bold to make you feel INDIGNANT AND BETRAYED BY THE GOVERNMENT the piece ends by saying that ’25 million could catch it here in months.’ Surely this is scaremongering? The content about the lack of masks is completely unnecessary, particularly as we have already been informed that masks are only useful to members of the medical profession as touching the masks after using them renders them pointless.

So what I have deducted from the oodles of internet, tv and print info is that people should carry tissues, get out the old festival anti bacterial gel and to not sneeze on people. To be honest I’m going to be doing this namely because I have a bit of a cold at the moment and my hayfever is rather chronic and is beginning to flare up.

Personally I am going to try not to worry; I have an exam tomorrow and an interview for an internship with Channel 4 as part of their Generation Next scheme next week. My exam is a practical performance of an Alan Aykbourne play called Invisible Friends. In it I play an angry middle aged dad and the voices of a tv, including a speech about rising inflation which suddenly feels all the more relevant!

The Channel 4 interview is for a new media post, as an assistant to the producer of the Big Brother website. When the program is on each Summer I’d say I probably visit the website more than I watch the program itself so therefore I’m quite excited about it! Aside from being keen generally my experience online and also through running Burnfm.com I’d say I’ve got as much a chance as any. As long as they don’t think I’m too young or don’t like that I’ve not finished my degree hopefully I’ll do well. The internship is from July to mid september and therefore I’ll be free to devote all my time to the job. (Put it this way; I really, really want to do it!) A task created video of Ulrika Johnson and Verne Troyer performing the Diana Ross and Lionel Richie duet, Endless Love from this year’s Celebrity Big Brother got over 81,000 views in a matter of days (the task was to get at least 10,000) which shows exactly how cross platform content is becoming increasingly popular amongst mainstream audiences. 

Hope you are all equally well and that this article hasn’t caused a panic!