TV Weekly: Bite Back

First Report on the first of the month. Today the BBC Radio 2 debate continues with one of the networks’ independent production companies springing to its defence.

Bite Back To Radio 2 Attacks

Last Monday we reported [click here for story] that BBC Radio 2 had come under-fire from the The Radio Centre, a body representing commercial radio, because they claimed the network had been putting popularity over public service.

“Over the last decade, Radio 2 has shifted its programming policies – nobody has intervened and this has been disastrous for commercial radio’s heartland audiences and for the plurality and diversity of the UK’s fragile radio ecology,” said Andrew Harrison CE of the Radio Centre in a report to the BBC Trust.

Today an independent production company – who make programming for Radio 2 – has bitten back at the attack. Ashley Byrne the creative head at Made In Manchester has added his views to the BBC Trust:

“If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Radio 2 is serving its remit and doing totally what commercial radio isn’t doing… …On what commercial station would you find Chris Evans at one end of the spectrum and David Jacobs and music from the 30s at the other? On what commercial station would you find special programmes marking the 70th anniversary of the start of World War Two?”

While some commercial radio, such as Smooth Radio, have in recent times produced documentaries on various subjects – this in commercial radio is the exception rather than the rule.

In his letter to the BBC Trust Ashley Byrne adds that commercial radio “Is where my roots are but, with some notable and truly admirable exceptions, commercial radio as a whole rarely commits to anyone or anything. It chops and changes far, far too much.”

News In Brief:

Its So Channel 4

Following on from the news that Andrew Lloyd Webber is wanting to move from the BBC to ITV; today reports are suggesting that Graham Norton is set to return to Channel 4 when his ‘exclusive’ BBC deal comes to an end.

‘Insiders’ at Channel 4 suggest Norton could take over from Paul O’Grady who is apparently moving The Paul O’Grady Show to Sky One in a later slot. A new deal could see the So Graham Norton host present on both channels, however, his production company are playing down the rumours.

Reunited For Five

Five is reuniting Zoe Ball and Jamie Theakston to present television’s toughest ever test, Britain’s Best Brain, it was announced last week. An ATV Network News reporter has seen the show in action and will be bringing you his view on it shortly…

Richard Woolfe, Five’s Channel Controller, said: “I’m delighted that Zoe and Jamie are back together.  They are brilliant broadcasters and their chemistry is extraordinary.  The fun and challenging format of Britain’s Best Brain is the perfect project for these sparky and loveable presenters.”

Theakston and Ball may be best remembered as hosts of BBC One’s Saturday morning CBBC magazine show Live and Kicking. They later worked for Channel 4 on a tea-time chat show.

Jamie Theakston, said: “As soon as I heard about the show I thought it sounded like a great concept.  I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since Zoe and I last presented a show together.  After our first run through it was like we had never been apart.  We both find the same things funny and she can make me laugh like no other presenter I’ve ever worked with.”

Britain’s Best Brain puts contestants through a series of grueling mental and physical challenges designed to test five specific areas of the brain and five specific brain functions – memory, co-ordination, calculations, recognition and risk. Contestants’ performance on the individual tasks generates a unique brain score with top scorers of the series returning for the grand final, where one will ultimately be crowned Britain’s Best Brain.

Zoe Ball said: “I’m very happy and excited to be working with my mate again.  Jamie is very sharp and a generous co-host and still makes me roar with laughter, so it’s not like work at all.  We’ve slotted straight back in to our working relationship, like putting on a favourite pair of old socks.

“My Dad, Johnny Ball, who is a very clever man, ribbed me when I told him I was hosting Britain’s Best Brain as I was never particularly brainy at school.  I was fairly mediocre at Maths and Sciences, I was better at English and Drama and chasing boys!  I’m looking forward to playing along to see if I can beat Jamie, although he is a very clever man, so we shall see.”