all must have prizes

This was the title of a book by Melanie Phillips

whom I met once, to review the said book and she was everything!  I didn’t think she was going to be including charming and reasonable.  Speak as you find.

I was not a prizewinner, most of us aren’t, which is why the lotteries swell to the riches of Croesus and we cross our fingers and hope.  I watch people every day buy a ticket and I only did it for a couple of months till I realised that “Why me ?” might just as well mean loser as winner, more likely in fact.

The ITV newscaster Mary Nightingale teased me when I said any award to me should be all or nothing – I hadn’t realised how it sounded – but that was 1998 when I won a gold Sony, top radio award, nothing to do with being an agony aunt.  The citation says “Talk/News Broadcasting Award” and as I walked through the applauding dark

Side view of mixed race business colleagues sitting and watching presentation with audience and clapping hands

to the stage, I had a couple of things I wanted to say.   I said among other things that we had listened that evening (big industry function) to a paean of praise to the BBC and that, while I loved and respected the BBC, the award I was holding was for over  20 years’ work in the independent sector of the industry.  The BBC would neither have hired me nor let me work as I had.  I was cheered.

I did lots of bits and pieces for the BBC, radio and television, some with great joy but whatever it was, my face didn’t fit, I don’t know – I only worked once under contract for a little series of 6 or 7 tv programmes for “Aunty” as we called her then – that was it.  This is not regret which would be pointless.  It’s a truth for a purpose.

The BBC is now riven with internal difficulties, over staffing, competition at every level and change – technology has changed, viewership and listenership has changed, the current government only wants what it wants – it has no coherent vision – which puts a public service broadcaster in between  a rock and a very hard place.   

I don’t know – and I bet you don’t either – what a “typical viewer” is.  But I bet I am not one.  I’ll spare you the list of stuff I never watch, wince at, shy away from and tell you that the fifth series of  Unforgotten knocked spots off any other police based serial.   No I am not an addict, I haven’t watched every moment with bated breath.  I can see that Nicola Walker had to get away or she’d never do anything else

“not a replacement, another thing entirely”

and that Sanjeev Bhaskar is just such a good actor.  I like the writing, by Chris Lang, oh I like the writing.  I like the technique which relies more on “out of the corner of your eye” than conventionally dramatic scenes.  I like the brief slight on the money asides which kept up a narrative drive which is my chief requirement in whatever media – I need to know we are moving forward.

Chris Lang has worked on scripts for years and you’d think was drowning in every kind of praise – but he has just written a short noticeably unhysterical piece about the lack of recognition by BAFTA for actors and craftsmen working on ITV product.   He names names, he explains the process and he breaks down figures.  I think I was more upset about the craftsmen than the actors because actors are an often moveable feast while technicians stay closer to home.  And I think of the number of times I have watched Vera (love Blethyn, hate the twang)  for the superb evocation of the odd bleak beauty of the north east of England in which I grew up.   A cinematographer

can make a story  –  just as a costumier can deliver the character.   No scripted ITV show has won a BAFTA since 2019.

Of course, Chris Lang says, it is ridiculous to take any award show seriously but this is the pre eminent award show in the TV industry and it’s looking a mite superior in its assessments.  Imagine that.   25 years on.       

NOTE: Linda McCormack – no email so I couldn’t reply. Thank you for thinking of me.

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