Friday, 14 January 2011

Next Week Will Be Perfect

If you work, whatever you do next week you must set your Sky Plus box for  Perfection (BBC2 4.30pm on Monday and add a series link) . If you don't work settle down and watch.

Presented by the excellent Nick Knowles and running every weekday afternoon, this great new quiz show was devised and developed for 12 Yard Productions by my lovely daughter in law Josephine. Marion and I had a sneak preview when we went to a recording last year. It's a super play along at home sort of show and I'm sure that it will be a big hit. Congratulations Josephine.

My heart sank when I read this week that celebrities were being paid to mention certain products on Twitter. How would I know for sure in the future that Liz Hurley's recommendation of Estee Lauder cosmetics came from her heart or that that book that Lord Sugar kept banging on about was as good as he said? Sadly every tweet must now be treated with suspicion. When I tweet that a restaurant, a hotel or a book is excellent you can be assured that, with only 40 or so followers, I am hardly likely to be in the pay of the subject but who else can we trust? It's a pity because Twitter is a brilliant platform for shared experiences and reading your Twitter feed with a degree of cynicism and fear of commercial exploitation will sully the experience.

But celebrity endorsement and product placement are with us to stay. We will soon be seeing similar shots on our screens to that above as product placement is soon to arrive here in the UK. In reality it's been around for some time. Last year I had an email from a TV researcher asking if I would like to provide catering equipment for a new show. I was assured that the kitchen would get prominent coverage on screen and it was a great opportunity for us. I declined. The show bombed (who knows how much better it would have done with our equipment) but there was no mention of product placement when it screened. How many cars have been provided for cop shows in a similar way?

I know that there will be strict guidelines and viewers will be told in advance when a programme is using it but will the producers be tempted to embellish their scripts and instead of just positioning a box of Frosties on the kitchen table add in a line to the effect that "they're great"? Whole plots could be transformed by the desire to keep the advertisers happy. I can see the planning meetings. "Doctor Who has been using that Tardis and Sonic Screwdriver for donkey's years now. How about giving him a B&Q self assembly shed and a tin of Ronseal?"I'm looking forward to it.

I heard on Radio 4's Today this morning that residents of a Southwark housing estate have had this glossy leaflet pushed through their letterboxes warning them against going to the police and grassing up their neighbours. Apart from the bad spelling and grammar what struck me most about the leaflet was the extremely sinister link. If you type into your browser it takes you to... Well just try it. Heres a link Nasty eh?

I think that if I lived in Southwark I'd be buying myself one of these guard hamsters. I would feel a lot safer then.