Consuming the output abroad

Posted on April 28, 2010

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I’ve been in Amsterdam this week, grappling with my own incompetencies booking travel and accomodation (unlike as well as attending the brilliantly informative and unexpectedly inspiring Next Web conference. Overlooking the obvious pleasures presented by the numerous opportunities to stroll aimlessly around the streets of Amsterdam, there has been a handful of unexpected TV pleasures to be had. I offer them here in an uncharacteristically positive note, free from any sarcasm.

BBC Breakfast

Bless Sian Williams for her reliable delivery first thing in the morning. Then there’s that other bloke who does the money. The bloke who did the thing about rope making in Chatham (they had two sterling contributors in that piece) and the impressive news about bowel cancer testing.

There’s no BBC Radio in the hotel and the internet access is 20 Euros for 24 hours or 7 Euros for an hour. You see my problem. So you might say BBC Breakfast was my only choice.

But even so, in all honesty Breakfast has been my first connection with home (I know, Amsterdam isn’t that far away but really I always go a bit weird when I’m away from home – that’s why I take a teddy bear with me now) and even though I feel as though I could really take a bit more news in the morning, I have appreciated it. Breakfast has eased me into my day.

EastEnders

What on earth has happened to EastEnders just recently? There was a time when me and the Significant Other would happily admit to speeding through most scenes in the soap-opera just to get to the cliffhanger which knew would probably be quite shit anyway. After a few weeks of doing that we had a meeting in the kitchen and agreed that it was probably best we shouldn’t watch it at all.

A few years later I’m watching it on hotel TV (there are only 2 BBC channels available) and I notice to what extent I seem to be gripped by the gay story playing out. From what I’ve seen over a couple of days I’ve been quite impressed – I’m normally hyper-sensitive where bad things are concerned – reassuringly so. Sometimes when you read so much bad press about the Corporation it’s always nice when you stumble on something which lays the self-doubt to rest.

The scripting is good and the direction doesn’t look shoddy how I remember it being when I disconnected from it. I’m not entirely sure about the ident at the top of the programme – the one that turns the square into a BBC One circle, but technically that isn’t EastEnders so I should probably just shut up about that bit.

I’ve watched two episodes on two consecutive days and were it not for the murderously expensive call and SMS rates I would have called the Significant Other back home to advise him to watch to. Maybe I’ll persuade him to watch the omnibus instead.

But really .. I’m not just saying this. That gay story was cracking or really very much better executed than anything I remember in the past 13 years.

The One Show

I’ve never been a fan of The One Show. I’ll hold my hands up. I even went so far as to rant to a former colleague that I wasn’t comfortable with the opening titles. He begged to differ and tried to persuade me otherwise.

And yet a few days out of the London bubble – a few days away from White City, even – and I notice how I’m laughing at soon to be torn apart double-act Chiles and Bleakley. I rather like the chemistry I see on screen. I warm to the silly jokes. At the end of a reasonably challenging day of tweets, blogs and interviews, I appreciate having something warm and fluffy and reminiscent of home on the TV.

Particularly engaging was a piece about an adorable 70 year old boxer doing a charity match with some whippersnapper concluding with a bit of a giggle between said boxer and Barry McGuigan. Also that night I learnt something about leeches and their ability to predict storms. So I was educated to.

Then this evening there’s a laugh with cutesy Ronnie Corbett and a reasonably informative piece about the biggest moth in England and George III. And, as it happens that opening sequence with Chiles and Bleakley in Pringle sweaters and ‘those’ specs made me giggle too.

So er, well done them. Chiles, couldn’t you reconsider?

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Posted in: TV