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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Just say no to TOGs

I came across this story yesterday, on MailOnline and it’s scared the pants off me.

I’ve been terrified by the Daily Mail before, so that’s not a new experience. But the suggestion that Jonathan Ross might actually, in the real world, be replaced by Terry Wogan on Radio 2 on Saturday mornings is so tremendously discomfiting that I am right now excavating a bunker underneath my kitchen in which to hide from the modern world.

That’s right – the MODERN world, a world where surely to god the empurpled complexion and lilting Irish tones of Terry Wogan have no place. Certainly there should be no place for him on Saturday mornings on Radio 2. I don’t care if you can’t see his complexion on the radio. I can feel the heat of those vein-mottled cheeks in my listener’s mind’s eye.

Was Lesley Douglas’ work on Radio 2 for nothing? Someone at the Mail is having a laugh, aren’t they? Either that or the Mail hopes that by running such a ludicrous story it might gain credibility with the cardigan brigade at the BBC and become reality?

We need a campaign now. Say no to TOGs on Saturday mornings.

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Pause for thought

I should just move on. I’ve suffered sudden bereavement before. But I can’t help wondering whether Jonathan Ross will return to BBC 1 and Radio 2 after his three-month suspension. Jeremy Vine and Terry Wogan have apparently cast doubt on the idea.

For what it’s worth, I reckon Ross and his agent Addison Cresswell will wait to see what the BBC internal inquiry reveals on November 20 before deciding whether to return or not and that will depend on how the BBC and boss Mark Thompson handle the thing at that point.

Thompson could still exonerate himself in this ridiculous affair by saying he had to pull Ross off air because of the scale of the reaction to the faux pas on the Russell Brand Show (35,000 complaints). If Thompson blamed the newspapers and online media for stoking the reaction, rather than blaming Ross and Brand for the original broadcast, and if Thompson holds Radio 2 managers responsible for letting the stuff be broadcast, he might just come out of this with a bit of editorial integrity left.

Also for what it’s worth, those journalists who helped gun down Ross last week might just be persuaded that Ross is a talented broadcaster, even if we all agree that after nine years on Radio 2 his show had become formulaic. (So is Terry Wogan’s but millions still tune into it.) But as a TV journalist for The Sun told me last week, journos were equally keen to have a go at Addison Cresswell who is, to all intents and purposes, a pretty tricky character to deal with. Which probably makes him a rather good agent. Can he bring Ross back from the brink of obscurity for a second time in the broadcaster’s career?

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