Archives for posts with tag: Television

Some final thoughts in this short series on the recently finished Rugby World Cup in Japan.

In the final we were comprehensively overwhelmed, out-thought and out-muscled by South Africa, who were on a mission, in more ways than one. It was real rabbit in the headlights stuff from the lads in white. Nothing worked when a mere week ago everything worked. They were a shadow of their semi-final selves. That’s not form; it serves as a further reminder of how it’s all in the mind.

Losing Kyle Sinckler in the third minute was a hammer blow, since he usually does at least 50 minutes. The game is won from the set piece, and England never recovered from that. I kept waiting for someone to step up for England and take the game to the RSA, but it was not to be.

I’ve saved a small bit of sour grapes for the end of the final post in the series. I’ve always maintained that an England victory is worth more than anyone else’s victory because everyone hates us. Everyone supports whoever England are playing, and you see this sub-consciously manifested in the decisions from the 4 officials. I can’t remember the last time we got a break from a French referee. No decisions went our way in the final. Interestingly, no decisions went our way in the semi-final either, especially from the South African TMO Marius Jonker. We lost almost every 50-50 call. Nigel Owens had a stinker and the current best ref in the world Wayne Barnes was obviously barred from the final. It’s just that we were so good in the semi that the inequality wasn’t as obvious and it didn’t matter as much. I still remember the refereeing of the scrums in 2003 final…

On balance, a great tournament. Many congrats to South Africa, the first team to win the whole thing having lost a group game. I think England fans would have taken a silver it was offered to them in the summer.

Behaviourally, I’m still adjusting to what I’m supposed to do with my time on early weekend days…

Here’s part 2 of my short series of reflections on the most important sporting event in our household for a while.

I’m just about over England’s disappointment in the bitterly frustrating final. I had been nervous all week in the lead up to the show piece, and didn’t sleep well the night before. With the games being on in the morning, you’re basically waking up to get right into the event, so there’s precious little build-up to match time.

The main reasons for my nerves during the week were that I felt England had not yet been tested. They hadn’t had a tight game. They weren’t match tight. I thought they were a little undercooked having not played France, and I touched on the weather in my previous post, because that would have been a tight game. The All Blacks were almost perfect against Ireland, but also looked undercooked against England in the semi, having not played Italy in the weekend when Typhoon Hagibis was wreaking havoc. England, by contrast, were almost perfect against the All Black and came into the final supremely high on confidence but woefully short on ‘squeaky bum’ experience, to quote Sir Alex Ferguson.

By contrast, the South Africans had a tough group opener against the All Blacks where they were out of the blocks very quickly but were then outplayed. From there they grew with every match. They also had a date with destiny, national destiny, and they rode that wave beautifully on the 2nd November 2019.

The Rugby World Cup is still fresh – a bit raw, actually, if I’m honest, so I thought I would pen a few words on my impressions of it. Firstly, the host country and the coverage.

Like the vast majority of fans, I didn’t go. Too far, too busy a time of year to be jetting off. I might go to the Lions tour of South Africa in 2021, and the World Cup in France in 2023, but Japan was a bridge too far. So television it was then, which is all anyone seems to use it for these days: live sport and live news.

I thought on balance that it was a great tournament. Obviously the weather and the unseasonably late and ferocious typhoons were a major issue. I mean, 88 people lost their lives! If that had been in the UK there would have been much hand-wringing about whether the tournament should continue at all. But, it’s down to the stoicism and resilience of the Japanese that they picked themselves up and put on a great series of events.

I had the misfortune of watching the final on Irish television, in a holiday home with access only to the Irish channels. All the other matches I saw were on the UK ITV station. OK, so the ads are a maddening but necessary part of the business model to all TV stations but the BBC, but the commentary and the punditry on ITV was outstanding I thought. The pundits were very insightful, and the ads were at their most intrusive during half time when you were really looking for more time for the experts to break down the first half and tee up the second.

I loved the little vignettes of Japanese phrases and philosophy as the stations went to the commercial breaks. A very nice touch.

I love a good heteronym, don’t you? A heteronym is two versions of the same spelled word that mean different things but are pronounced differently. In this blog post title, I’m referring to the word ‘live’ as in ‘we’re live in 10 seconds’, not as in ‘we live here’.

This post is not really about language, though, it’s about decision-making and about how mass communication has changed these days. I was talking to a neighbour of mine the other day. He’s a cameraman for a TV station here in Ireland. He was explaining how TV has gone. Many people now watch their drama in box sets or via piped, on demand television. The only currency in television nowadays, he said, was in live news and live sports. People still need to live in the moment and experience the present tense as it unfolds.

My neighbour is in the news business and was getting exasperated in a team meeting about a news item. A decision was not forthcoming and time was running out. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘either we go live, or go home.’ So succinct really. We’re in the live news business, we either get out there and film this thing or we’re done for the day, otherwise we miss the window, the moment has gone.

If you’re in the business of producing television, you either go live or you go home. Currency is the currency.

I don’t watch much television. I don’t have the time or the staying power for box sets. I like to catch the occasional film and will watch most sport if it’s on.

When there’s nothing grabbing my attention, I will flick channels. I flick them relentlessly. I’m an inveterate flicker. And do you know what usually stops me and holds my attention? BBC Four.

BBC Four is a wonder. Its documentaries, especially the music-based ones, are extremely sticky for me.

The best compliment I can pay BBC Four is that it’s like the web. It’s a black hole. You can lose yourself in BBC Four for hours. I don’t know how many times I’ve promised myself 10 minutes of TV time before bed, chanced upon a 70’s collection of Old Grey Whistle Test clips of legendary bands or musicians, and lost a couple of hours. BBC Four tends to do themed programming, so if you find something you like, there could well be a similar program to follow.

Yes, on balance, I think BBC Four is the best television channel, possibly in the world, though I’m judging it from my limited sample size.

Even though I live in the Republic of Ireland, my browser home page is always set to the BBC. It really is a very good website indeed. The broadcasting institution has undergone quite a few changes of late, but if you’re British it’s an inescapable and vital part of your life.

Here are 7 reasons why the BBC rocks:

– No ads.  Even though I’m in marketing, I love watching television on the BBC because you’re guaranteed uninterrupted coverage and no falsely imposed breaks of flow or thought.  You get ads on the BBC website if you view it from overseas, but who cares? That’s routine behaviour on the web

– Great value for money with the license fee. The quality of programming is still peerless. In Ireland you pay a similar license fee – and you still get ads. With Sky you pay a monthly subscription – quite a high one – and amazingly you still get ads, which I would find infuriating and a bit of a con

– Accessible to people in Ireland under a range of subscription arrangements, so us expats don’t have to go without

– Fantastic music montages. No-one caps off a televised event with a montage as good as the BBC’s

– Still the best documentaries around.  History, music, you name it

– Superb natural history content. OK, so I’m biased here and my brother does work in this area, but it’s still superb

– Flawless sports coverage and camera work. Think 6 Nations, the British Open, Wimbers…

They’re not perfect, but my they’re pretty close to it.

I do have a gripe that on the website you can’t see certain sporting footage because of licensing arrangements and you get the ‘UK viewers only’ message, but it’s a small gripe.

The phrase ‘thanks to the unique way the BBC is funded’ is sometimes used as a stick to beat the Beeb with. Not by me. We don’t know how lucky we are.