News round-up Week 49

Jamie Oliver At Home. Fresh One Productions Footballers' Wives. Shed Productions 

In my diary, Monday 1 to Friday 5 December was week 49. It was also the week of my younger daughter’s fourth birthday and therefore I cannot cling to the excuse that I am mum to a pre-schooler for much longer. Post September 2009 I will have no option but to fill my entire week with work. Let’s hope it pays.

And so lucecannon launches a new feature, which may or may not become regular depending on how I’m feeling next week.

It is the round-up of the week’s media news. What you really needed to know about what happened this week. Disregard the millions of stories pouring out of websites and more established news emporia everywhere – here’s where you get your meaningful media summary.

1. Eileen Gallagher is stepping down as chief exec of Shed Media plc to go back into production. From 1 January 2009 she will head Shed Productions, part of the Shed group, and coo Nick Southgate will take over as Shed Media ceo. Shed made Bad Girls and (a personal fav) Footballers’ Wives for ITV and these days make Waterloo Road for BBC 1. Gallagher, ex-ITV, has built Shed Media up from scratch into a group of companies, floated the thing on the alternative investment market and presumably now had enough of dealing with tossers with calculators who know nothing about television but everything about market cap and share prices. Good luck to her as a normal TV person once again. Whoever said floating a production company on the stock market wasn’t a good thing? Certainly not David Frank of RDF who is buying the company back from its publicly listed status.

2. Graham Norton is taking over from Terry Wogan as host of the BBC coverage of the Eurovision Song Contest. Enough said.

3. The Competition Commission has put the frighteners on, but not stopped, Project Kangaroo – a proposed online TV service which will have BBC, Channel 4, ITV and possibly other broadcasters’ programming on it. Forget the iPlayer and C4 and ITV’s online catchup services – they will be one and the same thing. The commission has said Project Kangaroo could restrict competition in the video-on-demand market. But it’s still early days – this is a provisional finding and the BBC, C4 and ITV have time to reassure the commission before a final opinion is published, and the future of the whole venture decided, on 8 February.

4. Roy Ackerman is leaving Diverse, the production company he’s worked at for almost 20 years, to run Jamie Oliver’s production company Fresh One. Diverse, known for serious documentaries and series such as Tribal Wives, Play It Again and Last Chance Kids, was sold to Zodiak, a company based in Sweden which is itself now owned by an Italian company. It’s all a long way from being a small British independent producer but then all indies have been consolidating like crazy to stay alive. Fresh One, meanwhile, has been desperate for a well-connected, serious production executive to help it land it more TV commissions that aren’t reliant on Jamie Oliver, such as Neil Morrissey’s Risky Business for C4. Oliver has found his man in Ackerman. But the tide of celebrity-led factual programming ain’t turning yet. Neil Morrissey was a case in point.

5. There was some bother about John Barrowman, camp performer known for his leading role in the BBC’s Torchwood, exposing himself on radio. As if that were possible. It happened on a live Radio 1 show on Sunday night and presenter Annie Mac apologised at the end of the show. But by Tuesday the rest of the media had picked up on it and it was all being rolled in with Jonathan Ross’ phone calls to Andrew Sachs etc etc. A BBC spokeswoman said the programme had overstepped the mark and Barrowman apologised and grovelled to the BBC.

That’s it – the week in a nutshell. Hope it was a good one for you.

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