Tag Archives: Downton Abbey

TV: the elite athletes of video

I was driving past a primary school the other day and saw all the kids competing in their Olympics-themed sports day, their mums and dads looking on indulgently.  Our village is staging its own Olympics-inspired event where the locals will be encouraged to attempt some sporting trial however laughable – and even life-threatening – those are likely to be.

But in two weeks we’ll all be able to watch the greatest athletes in the world show how all that long-jumping, volley-balling, rowing, cycling or synchronised swimming should really be done.  And, having watched elite sportspeople for two weeks, many people will be fired up and start jogging or playing tennis regularly; some of the younger ones might even end up as Olympic athletes themselves in 2016 or 2020. Read more on TV: the elite athletes of video…

Autumnal reasons to thank TV advertisers

Autumn is here, sort of, and with it comes our annual windfall of wonderfully telly.

Downton has returned with new costumes, new skulduggery, new staff, new ghosts from Mr Bates’s past, new will-they-won’t-they-can-they-should-they, the same dusters and decorum, and a hatful of Emmys. It attracted 10 million viewers on its return, at least 9 of whom work here at Thinkbox.

Of course, despite its massive success and  popularity, Downton isn’t everyone’s cup of afternoon tea, and there are even dissenters among the Thinkbox ranks. That is of course the beauty of telly: there is something for everyone at any time and, increasingly, in any place.
Read more on Autumnal reasons to thank TV advertisers…

Two lords a-leaping…into media jobs

Two Lords have leapt into senior media jobs in recent weeks: Lord Sugar has replaced Kip Meek as the chairman of YouView and Lord Patten has emerged as the next chair of the BBC Trust.

It was amusing to hear Lord Patten announce he doesn’t watch much TV.  Normally, we should be concerned when people attain positions of power over something they don’t understand, but we’re used to posh people under-reporting their TV consumption.  “Oh, I watch very little TV.  Just Channel 4 News and Newsnight – and an occasional documentary on Discovery.  Downton Abbey was marvellous mind you, and I find myself watching  the X Factor, The Simpsons and The Inbetweeners because of the kids. Don’t tell anyone but my secret guilty pleasure is America’s Next Top Model.” They then proceed to sing the GoCompare ad and do the Webuyanycar dance.   Read more on Two lords a-leaping…into media jobs…

I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it. I’m about to use my remote control and I think I’ll like it

It’s not like me to resort to cheesey pop lyrics – though I do confess to an excess of breathless enthusiasm sometimes – but this time I want you to get excited with me about things that really matter: TV programmes.

We are no slouches at Thinkbox when it comes to championing new TV technologies; you might have already seen our new Tellyporting research into TV’s future (if not you can see the re-run on 2 Feb).  But all the iPads, and 3D screens and smartphones and companion social media sites would be dreary devices indeed without the life-force and well-spring of great TV content.

Given the near 10% decline in TV ad revenue in 2009, it’s nothing short of miraculous that viewing hasn’t suffered in 2010, with average viewing likely to tip over the 4 hour mark.

Programmes like Downton Abbey (back again this year), This Is England ’86, An Idiot Abroad, Any Human Heart, Take Me Out, One Born Every Minute, Flying Monsters, World Cup coverage, 30Rock, Corrie Live at 50, The Walking Dead, Four Weddings, Australian Masterchef, Dispatches, the Election debates, Million Pound Drop, The Book Show etc. etc., not forgetting the juggernauts of X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and I’m a Celebrity, kept me and millions of others entranced.  

So, after a bumper TV revenue year in 2010, up about 14%, and with brilliant programming teams in place across tellyland, what new treasures can we all look forward to in 2011?  Further episodes of Downton Abbey aside (what will Lady Mary do about Mr Crawley?) other 2011 ITV dramas include Kidnap & Ransom (with Trevor Eve), Monroe (a medical series with James Nesbitt and Sarah Parish), Vera (Brenda Blethyn as a detective), and two forays into the supernatural – Eternal Law (about two angels on earth) and Marchlands (about a house across the decades containing the spirit of a young girl) – look very tasty.  

Highly anticipated new satirical comedy on Channel 4 starts with 10 O’Clock Live this Thursday.  Not sure how I will cope with having two unlikely heartthrobs of mine in one show: Charlie Brooker AND David Mitchell.  With this, you are spoiling us Channel 4.  And in spring, the first series of Campus finally launches, from the team who brought you the best comedy series ever made, Green Wing.

And commercial TV is also delighted to welcome brilliant on-screen talent normally associated with the BBC, from David Attenborough on Sky One to Mary Portas as a Secret Shopper on Channel 4.  The launch of Sky Atlantic on February 1st, Sky’s joint venture with HBO will also bring all those classy series within the grasp of advertisers.  If you’re not excited about being able to puts ads in Mad Men breaks, then there’s just no pleasing some people, and maybe you should think about another career.

These are just a tiny fraction of the pleasures to come.  These, plus lots of new 3D programmes and the new opportunity of product placement means your focus for 2011 should be as squarely on the TV ‘software’ as the TV hardware.

Read more on I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it. I’m about to use my remote control and I think I’ll like it…

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