Twitinions – Product Placement arrives in the UK

February 28, 2011

It all started with a Nescafe Coffee Machine. Yes, product placement has made it to the UK and will be invading several of of our favourite shows over the coming months. Todays episode of ‘This Morning’ was the first to carry Ofcom’s new product placement logo (pictured right) and the first ever in-show advert on British TV, the aforementioned coffee machine.

Now over the past weeks, I’ve made my views on Product Placement very clear, but what does everyone else make of it?

This is a new semi-regular feature where I look at what is being said on Twitter, scouring the feeds for the most interesting, controversial and funny opinions the world has. I must stress that the text featured below are simply the opinions of the people credited and are in no way associated with me.

Many people were strongly against the introduction of ‘PP’ to the UK:

@Tsing_Taoist: Before long with #productplacement TV programs will be just adverts!

@StephenEConlan: #productplacement. Its all down hill from here
@robinince: oh dear, this is a pity, luckily I only watch TV to shout at it, so product placement should help that

Others, just against the product itself:

@CatsHurricane: #productplacement so…nescafe coffee machine on this morning…I take it this morning don’t remember the baby milk disaster then?#appalled

Whereas quite a few of you couldn’t see what the fuss was about as the ‘ad’ was so obscure:

@jotaylor9: Ok so I watched @itvthismorning today and didn’t notice the #productplacement love the idea of pp though another platform for brands to use!
@JeremySinger1: Nestle spends over £100,000 to place a coffee machine on the set of This Morning! Without brand mentions it seems futile! #ProductPlacement


They should concentrate on having their products on supermarket shelves and at a price we can afford 

But the vast majority of you just saw the funny side of things, coming up with suggestions for future PP:

@PippaRolls67: Loose women and #productplacement really gets the mind boggling! Rigby and Pellar, Tampax, Clarins, Ann Summers…flood gates open!

@Locko8668: @Weathergodess *Flashing P* I suggest Pak-A-Macs for todays weather #ProductPlacement

@ReynardCity: #productplacement Ant and Black and Decker Power Tools

@PrincePhilipDoE: Queen on the phone to ad agency – she will NOT give Xmas speech on a Stannah Stair-lift.

The general Twitinion seems to be rather firmly against Product Placement thus far and I very much agree. But love it or hate it, it will be part of our TV (well except the BBC) for the foreseeable future. Expect more and more of those “p’s” to be appearing at the bottom left-hand corner of your screen!
Thanks to everyone for great comments on Twitter and let me know what you think by leaving a comment below or tweeting @chrisbheath !

PS – I would like to apologise for the horrible formatting of this page. WordPress appears to be having some problems, I’m doing my best to sort it!

Sunday Rants: Justin Bieber

February 27, 2011

This guy was bound to come up in a rant sooner or later. Justin Bieber, for anyone who’s been living under a Meteor for the past 12 months, is a 16 year-old heartthrob from Canada that seems to have captured the heart of just about every teenage girl around. How? By singing and having a particularly large fringe!

So why is he so annoying. Well, the worst part isn’t Justin himself, it’s his ridiculously obsessive fans. They follow his every move and see themselves as closer to him than Jesus’ disciples. You may remember my rant about celebrity culture a few weeks ago, this is the ultimate example of it.

These girls (and also in some cases middle-aged women) literally throw themselves at Bieber anytime he is near. That’s not even a metaphor. A couple of weeks ago, during the UK premiere of Bieber’s new film, several teens had to be taken to hospital after spotting Justin entering the venue around the back and crushing each other just to get a tiny glimpse at the teenage twerp.

And the Bieber fans don’t just contain their enthusiasm to their own (admittedly large) circle of fandom, they let it spew over into everyone’s world. Nearly every time I log on to Twitter, ‘Bieber’ is somewhere in the top ten trending topics. ‘#BieberFever’ this, ‘#JustinForever’ that. This is happening so frequently that The Observer claim Bieber is more influential on the social networks that President Obama or The Dalai Lama. Is this right?

It’s not just his fans that shove it in our face. His media and marketing managers are just as much to blame by creating reasons for us to hate him. For example, the 3D documentary extravaganza, ‘Justin Bieber: Never Say Never’. A film all about what you can achieve if you keep trying and don’t give up… the kids 16! He’s not had a chance to give up! It’s just worked for him. Do you think other people haven’t had harder times/better success stories in the world. But they don’t get films.

The truth is, the media companies that own the Bieber franchise know that Justin’s ridiculous popularity wont last forever and they’re milking it right now for all it’s worth. The downside of that is that if you are still sane like myself, you find it almost impossible to escape the blanket coverage of the teen idol.

You could say then, that Justin’s been a bit of a victim of his success. We hate the way he is portrayed more than the person himself. He’s also been the victim of horrible hate campaigns such as #RIPJustinBieber on twitter. This guy is probably just an alright, down-to-earth guy who’s been very lucky.

I wish that were true.

In my experience of seeing Bieber in interviews and on shows, he comes across as the most arrogant, self-centred, annoying, pompous, selfish, snobbish, hateful, unpleasant, egotistical, greedy , thoughtless, stupid little sod I have seen on TV. He honestly thinks he is the second coming and that we should all love him.

He is 16 and maybe he’s been moulded this way by the blinding success that has come so easily to him. Or perhaps it’s just the way that teenagers are going now. Whatever happened to manners?

Enjoy your Sunday! 😀


Here’s something for all of you that, like me, are fed up of Bieber!


A date for your iPad diaries!

February 23, 2011

Just a quick note to say that Apple have officially announced a press conference next week, to reveal their hotly anticipated ‘iPad 2’.

The conference will take place next Wednesday (March 2nd) at 10am PST (6pm GMT) and has the slogan ‘Come see what 2011 will be the year of’.

It will be very interesting to see what Apple have come up with this time. Last year, tablets were few and far between when Apple showed off the first version of the iPad. One year on and the market is saturated with them, particularly a growing amount of Android ones which can really rival the iPad. Apple will have to innovate and improve massively to stay in the game.

It will also be interesting to see how many of the rumours sprawled about the internet are true. Will it have USB and SD card support this time? How about front and rear facing cameras? Maybe the resolution will be at least 2x the originals, and perhaps it will be the slimmest piece of tech available.

We’re also likely to be treated to some more news from Apple (aside from their boring sales figures) such as a new version of iOS and some more news on what Mac OS X Lion will look like.

Perhaps the biggest question is who will host this conference seeing as CEO Steve Jobs is currently on leave from the company due to ill health.

If all goes to plan, I’ll be tweeting live throughout the conference so follow @chrisbheath for updates next Wednesday.

Square Eyes #7: Marchlands is actually excellent!

February 22, 2011

ITV and drama have gone hand in hand for a while now, but ITV and good quality drama, that was quite a different story! It always seemed to me that the network would spew out as much drama as it possibly could and hope that some of it would hit the spot. Well at last one finally has, Marchlands.

Through all the tiresome ‘Wild at Heart’ and countless drama’s about people being kidnapped, ITV have presented a ghost story of sorts. Marchlands (Thursday’s at 9) tells the story of a house of the same name, but through three different times – The 60’s the 80’s and the present day.

In the 60’s we meet Ruth and Paul Bowen, a young couple who are just starting out in Marchlands. The 80’s feel a little bit like a sci-fi convention as the couple here are played by Alex Kingston (Doctor Who) and Dean Andrews (Life On Mars/Ashes To Ashes). But the reality is that they are the parents in what is becoming a bit of a dysfunctional family. And in the present day we meet Nisha and Mark who have just moved into the Marchlands house to have their first baby.

But this isn’t any old house, mysterious happenings are afoot.

In the 1960’s, the couple who lived there lost their little girl Alice who sadly drowned. But it seems Alice never truly left. She appears in person to another child in the 1980’s and causes unexplained happenings in the present day version of the house.

It’s an intriguing tale which has gripped me throughout and there have been some very well thought out themes emerging. For example, Alice drowned, so she often causes havoc involving water – a bath flooding, taps turning on, that sort of thing.

But much better than this simple ghost tale, is the way the story is told. We’re constantly jumping between the three different times, seeing the story progress… as it is still progressing. It gives the writers a great way of introducing parts of the story to us in a non-linear format and I love that.

It also allows us to see what most shows will never show – how the same characters are many years later. For example, Ruth – the mother of Alice – turns up again in the present day scenes, still clearly scarred by the events which happened during her time at Marchlands. There’s also a ‘love plot’ developing simultaneously in the 1980’s and being rekindled in the present day.

All three timezones are completely different, but have the same key themes running underneath. And of course regular ‘visits’ from Alice!

It’s great storytelling and it really helps the show along, keeping it fresh and interesting every week.

The only problem I have with this show is, where does it end? You may have been reading this and noticing the obvious similarities to ‘Lost’. I noticed them too, it’s part of the reason I love the show, but I also fear for it’s ending. I can’t see how it will end in a satisfactory way, so will it disappoint.

I severely hope it wont as this has to be one of the best shows I have seen ITV produce in a long time. There’s not much longer to find out either, there’s two episodes left of the show and if you haven’t watched yet, I would highly recommend it (you can always catch up on ITV Player).

I just hope that this will be the start of a turning point for ITV. It had Downton Abbey last year, now Marchlands, maybe there is still quality left in it… or perhaps they’ll commission a new series of Celebrity Love Island next week. Oh my!

Cancelling the Bahrain Grand Prix – right decision?

February 21, 2011

Of course it is! I was relieved when I got home from work this evening to find that The Bahrain Grand Prix has been officially postponed. Any attempt to run it on March 13th would have surely been a disaster.

The Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al Khalifa made the announcement today after F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone had put the decision in his hands at the end of last week.

Speaking on Twitter, the Crown Prince said: “We felt it was important for the country to focus on immediate issues of national interest. Bahrain’s priority is on overcoming tragedy, healing divisions and rediscovering the fabric that draws this country together to remind the world of the very best that Bahrain is capable of as a nation once again united.”

And that’s exactly the point. The country is still in a state of civil unrest due to the ongoing protests. Radical decisions are being made. People have lost their lives over what they believe. Is this really the time to host a global sporting event. Would you feel right, celebrating a pole position or victory in a country which is still in turmoil. And the whole event would just create more trouble, due to it being pretty much run by the Bahrani royal family.

There should never have even been a debate about the sport going there at this time. In fact, should it even be the matter that’s being discussed?

The F1 season will now start on March 27th in Australia. There’s a very strong chance that a race will still be run in Bahrain this year after the current ‘unrest’ has come to an end. But if Bahrain is to follow the massive wave of change traveling through the middle-east at the moment, it could be a very different country by the time F1 does pull up there again.

Shame it won’t be a different track!


Sunday Rants: Losing the pounds

February 20, 2011

What’s the point of getting fit? Everyone is always pushing it in your face. Get fit after Christmas, shape up for summer, loose weight this winter. But seriously, what is the point? You’re only going to put it all back on again.

I should explain where the nature of this rant has come from. Since Christmas, I have actively joined the idea of losing a few pounds. I’ve been exercising more, eating less and having a few goes on the old Wii Fit!

And hey, I have indeed lost a few pounds. But not a noticeable amount.

I’ve been going at this for over a month now and am failing to see any significant difference. I’m more or less the same weight as I was when not exercising at all and eating loads, to what I am now I have cut back.

So how do I rectify this? Well I suppose first of all I could cut back even more. Heck, maybe I should reduce some of my meals to less than a snack. But the problem there is that I do, like most people, enjoy food. I don’t binge eat by any stretch of the imagination and I don’t snack during the day, so I consider the amount I eat to be just fine. And why should I take that away just to become a bit slimmer.

Another option could be to exercise more. In fact, why don’t I join a gym. Or how about I don’t. The last thing I need is some personal trainer telling me to ‘feel the burn’ and ‘just keep going’ for an extortionate price. I have Wii Fit to do that already!

There are other activities that I could take up and do more often, I do enjoy sports such as Badminton and Tennis and maybe I will make more of an effort to play these again in the future.

But it gets me thinking about the reason that I or anyone else, chooses to loose wait. It’s all just to conform with what is expected from society. And I hate that.

We are all individuals, all different and that should be celebrated. We shouldn’t be told how we should look, we shouldn’t be told how to act. But we are and we all do it. The perceptions that have been built up in society are similar to that of a dictatorship, yet we all strive to meet them, just like our favourite celebrities. After all, there are magazine’s publicly shaming our celebs if they put on a couple of pounds… oh they have a hard life.

I’m not trying to say here that it’s right for everyone to be fat, but it’s not right for everyone to be thin either. We do need to make sure we don’t over indulge, but at the same time, whats the point of heavy dieting and extreme exercise (unless you enjoy it, in which case be my guest). We only have one life (as far as we know) we might as well spend our time enjoying it!

Enjoy your Sunday and eat as much as you want! I will, although I may end up looking like this! 😀

Square Eyes #6: Channel 5 – the worst relaunch ever?

February 15, 2011

Media mogul Richard Desmond brought FIVE TV last year. On Monday, he completed his big overhaul of the station. Rebranding it very originally to ‘Channel 5’, it was hoped that the millions that Desmond was putting aside for the network might provide something quite special.

Sadly that has not been the case. From what I’ve seen thus far, Channel 5 is just as bad if not worse than it’s forerunner FIVE. Lets look at some of the programmes we have on offer.

First of all there’s new reality show, Candy Bar Girls. This enthralling show will follow a group of lesbians who like to party, as in really like to party. As in don’t do much work because work is for lamo’s and they’re not lame, they’re party girls. Yeah… it’s one of those shows.

But wait! This show will be different, because this show will be tasteful. In fact the channel’s director of programmes Jeff Ford said the show will be a serious sociological enquiry claiming “it’s about our mission to reflect Britain and maybe people who haven’t been reflected, perhaps ever”. So it’s not just exploiting drunken party-goers on TV? I’ll believe it when I see it!

Candy Bar Girls will air in the Spring.

Then of course there’s the Channel’s new flagship tea time show, OK!TV (which is in no way like predecessor Live From Studio Five… honest). Hosted by ‘Live From Studio Five’ host Kate Walsh (wait!) and Matt Johnson, the show presides over pointless celebrity news from a tacky plastic studio, complete with pre-reocrded video, live guests and annoying reporters. Yep, nothing like ‘Live From Studio Five’ (or as Kate says ‘Loive from studio Foive’)

To be fair, Kate wasn’t supposed to be the presenter until four days ago when Denise Van Outen pulled out of presenting the show after supposedly falling out with Richard Desmond. Good start for the show all round.

Anyway, as I was writing this this evening, I thought it best to watch a bit of Live fr.. sorry OK!TV today.

I didn’t last past 15 minutes. I can’t stand this kind of show and I don’t know why anyone does. Even the presenters looked embarrassed at the rubbish they were spewing from their mouths. It’s the sort of show where the fact that Dermot, Louis, Simon and Cheryl might miss this years X-Factor is seen as a ‘disaster’. Not even Cowell himself classes that as a disaster. The cyclone in Australia last week is a disaster. Get some perspective.

And perhaps I’m being harsh here, but at the same time, I guess the show wasn’t exactly designed for my liking!

There are a few other shows being launched include ‘So You Think You Can’t Drive’ (whereby we follow people who are scared of driving), Robson Green’s Extreme Fishing (what? it got re-commissioned?) and a whole plethora of Justin Lee Collins vehicles. Actually I like JLC, he’s alright so long as he doesn’t bring back ‘Heads and Tails’!

On to the positives. 5 news is not a complete mess, in fact it wasn’t a bad broadcast at all from Emma Crosby and even if not the most hard-hitting news programme, it was at least different to it’s terrestrial competitors. And that was the positives.

Even the onscreen prescence is dreadful. A great big red circle with a single ‘5’ in the centre. It looks tackier than some of the rubbish that appears on the furthest reaches of digital, let alone our fifth channel…. and to think, Jeremy Hunt thinks we need a sixth.

So where have Desmond’s millions gone exactly. Well the BIG rumour is that his BIGgest announcement is yet to come, from his BROTHER (sorry that was tenuous). I am of course talking about Big Brother, which has been linked to Channel 5 ever since it left C4. It would have been nice to see a big show like this announced at the start of the launch. Maybe then they would have at least had one ratings winner. At this rate, the connection with BB is just going to hurt C5 as those who wanted it back, turn away from the channel that has led them on and let them down.

So it seems Channel 5 is to remain as trashy, dull and pathetic as ever. There will still be some good stuff, but that will come almost solely from America. I was hoping for some more great British TV and that we certainly don’t have here. Maybe one day Channel 5 will get it right, but it certainly isn’t yet. Throw a few more million at it Richard!

Sunday Rants: Celebrity Culture

February 13, 2011

Over the past 50 or so years, our country, well, our world has been slowly invaded by an evil force. But this isn’t a traditional invasion, there’s n army so to speak and there’s no hostility from either side. In fact we seem to have just grown to accept it. I am of course talking about the horror that is celebrity culture.

The idea of idols has of course been around for thousands of years. People have always needed someone to worship. But since the invention of Radio, TV and now the internet, the people we worship have become more and more diluted.

Instead of God’s and Messiah’s, it’s now the latest pop sensation or actor or comedian that gets disciples following their every move.

And when people start becoming too interested in these Zeleb’s, we start getting told more about them. ITV2 for example has become a haven for shows which follow these people’s every single move and documents it all in a poor excuse for a programme. Are there really enough people interested in watching what Peter flipping Andre did next?

Apparently there is and this is the problem. The general consensus is that we should put these people up on a pedestal and aspire to be like them. It’s perfectly normal to hang backstage for hours to get a glimpse of them, or try and hug them, get as many photo’s as you can of them and buy them gifts.

We care about these people more than we do the actual people we see in our everyday lives. We’re certainly more interested in what they’re doing and saying than any of the boring sod’s around us… and that’s not healthy.

Of course, a site that I love has also caused a big part of this problem. Twitter has become completely infested with the Zeleb’s meaning you can follow their every single move including watching them have public slanging matches with other celebrities on the site. And if you write to them, sometimes they’ll write back to you and it will be like they’re your bestest buddy, how friggin’ great is that!! After all, who would want real friends when you could have celebs (the sad thing is, I think a lot of people genuinely think like this).

Of course the whole idea of celeb culture causes you to think that if you’re not doing what these people are doing or looking like they look, then quite frankly you are no-one. It’s turning the UK into a completely manufactured group of people where no-one is original. And what’s worst is that we spend our whole life sitting watching other people’s celebrity lifestyle’s, wanting to know what their doing instead of living our own pitiful lives which are only pitiful because we spend all of it watching other zeleb’s and not living our own!

It’s a dreadful, vicious circle and one I wish would stop. But it never will, there’s just too much interest in the Zeleb’s, which means the media will keep feeding it to us and we will keep watching. Quite frankly, I think we’re doomed.

Enjoy your Sunday 🙂

TV’s Future – Product Placement

February 12, 2011

In the final edition of my short featurette delving into the future of Television, I’ll be looking at a very controversial decision that was made last year. Product placement, the idea of advertising products within television shows. An idea I absolutely hate.

Product placement isn’t something new, it’s used throughout the world, particularly in America. It will be the reason why many of your favourite characters from US shows use Apple Mac computers or drink and ice-cold Coca-Cola. This idea has always been kept out of British TV as we like to keep the adverts within the ad break. But this ban on impartiality will be lifted from the end of February. Ofcom, the media regulator, believe that this will help struggling broadcasters generate more revenue from their programmes. After all who watches ad breaks since PVR’s came along?

You may well be reading this thinking, what’s the problem with having genuine products in our shows so that characters on Corrie can now visit Tesco’s instead of having to settle with ‘Fresco’s’! Surely this will all bring a bit more realism to shows and only be a very subtle addition to our programming.

And if it ends up just being subtle products in the background of shots, then maybe it’ll all be OK. But it wont be that. Product placement will take over our shows. Instead of engaging stories and entertainment, we will constantly have the latest new products shoved in our faces. We’ll be told how this drink keeps you refreshed for longer, how that toaster provides the best results around and how some z-list celebrity’s perfume gets you that romance you crave.

The proof is already out there. Shows like American Idol have the judges drinking only from certain products, with all cups facing the way that shows the logo best. Films like iRobot are just one great big commercial, with directors focusing on getting as many logo shits in instead of something that’s genuinely entertaining.

And this is the real problem. Money is what makes businesses like ITV work. That’s already evident from the sheer amount of cash cows such as X-Factor and I’m a Celeb already on the network. As they crave more and more cash, they’ll try and squeeze more and more adverts into their shows. With pound signs in their eyes, the producers of shows will ditch any kind of quality for one great big hour long commercial.

Of course Ofcom have realised that people like me might not want this and so have required that the TV networks display a logo at the start of any show which contains product placement. But surely this makes the situation worse and just makes me want to look out for those adverts all the more!

We don’t need this in our country. We have some brilliant television (and admittedly some awful stuff) and this would ruin it, would make it cheap and tacky and unwatchable.

In the past few weeks I’ve spoken of some great technological developments, but all of these could become pointless if we end up with dreadful shows on the box. This is what I fear product placement will bring and is the reason that I think February 28th will change TV in our country forever… for the worse.

And that brings me to the end of my short articles about TV’s future. It certainly is an interesting time for telly as it faces challenges both financially and for your attention against such things as the internet. Throw into that new ideas for local TV, user created content and product placement and that box in the front room could be very different system in ten years time.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading 😀

Our problem with control

February 11, 2011

All these protests in Egypt and even closer to home have got me thinking. We don’t like control do we. It doesn’t matter who the individual or entity is, we just simply hate anything controlling us. I suppose we all want our say and don’t want to be mindless puppets for our governments to control. But if we all take a step back for a moment, we’d realise that we need control to function.

Now before I go any further, I would like to say I am not criticising the people in Egypt making their point heard against Mubarak. They are fully justified and I am glad that they have finally today got what they were asking for. I was going to try and sound Mubarak’s side of the argument, although when I searched Google for ‘good things President Mubarak did) I found nothing, so I think they’re protest has been pretty justified!

Likewise I am not arguing against people in our country protesting against cuts. I strongly believe that our government have gone too far and I worry that I wont be able to find a toilet, library or even forest I can visit soon at this rate.

But what does annoy me is when people say of the people in charge ‘they don’t know what they’re doing’ or ‘they’re doing this to screw us’. Believe it or not, the powers at the top in a democracy (dictatorships are obviously a very different story) do want to run the country for the good of it’s people. You may not think this and believe that politicians lie all the time (and to be fair they don’t have a good track record) but most of the time, the reason they don’t keep their promises is because running the country is bloody hard!

And even if you don’t think that’s true, then think about what politicians want. They want to be in power and at the present time, in a democracy, the only way they can do that is with votes from the public (or by siding with the biggest party in the case of the Lib Dems!).

But rather than see this side, we always want to rage against those in charge.

A good example of the rage against control would be the journalist Johann Hari. Now Johann made some very good points when he was on ’10 O’Clock Live’ last night about the ‘Big Society con’, but he continued further than this and went as far as to say he thought Tony Blair should be in prison and Gordon Brown was an utter disgrace to his country. Now both of these former leaders made mistakes, there’s no doubt about that, but I found Johann’s comments to be nothing more than a simple attempt to blame someone.

And this is the thing, our leaders become scapegoats for everything that goes wrong in the country. And perhaps they should, they are after all the ones running the country. Maybe we should burn effigies of them every time something goes wrong, maybe we should destroy their offices and throw fire extinguishers from a roof.

Or maybe we should realise that it’s far too easy to criticise and a whole lot more difficult to do their job. I’d like to see how Johann Hari and many other journo’s who constantly criticise the government would handle running an entire country and keeping everyone happy. Not so easy.

The debate on 10 O’Clock Live’ raged on and ended with everyone on the panel claiming the government is simply a pile of … I know it’s a satirical show, but comments like this (although quite funny) just annoy me.

So next time you have a problem with control, say why, be constructive, explain the problem and the solution. post on a forum or blog to make your point *wink wink*! Perhaps then we can move a bit further on in life instead of just slagging each other off, or perhaps we’re doomed to fall into a world where all anyone does is just sling increasingly more creative insults at each other. I blame Simon Cowell!

Hmmm, I’ve just realised, I’ve spent the last 650 words defending the likes of Cameron and Clegg, what is wrong with me!