How it could look…

WHEN a story like today’s news that tourist board officials in Brazil came up with the idea of putting a replica of the Christ The Redeemer statue on the top of Primrose Hill, it would have been rude not to come up with a ‘how it could look’ image. This was how page 3 of today’s Camden New Journal came back from the subs desk.

Keypad tones: Off

I’VE been avoiding Labour councillor Awale Olad since Manchester United’s latest win against Arsenal at the weekend. He can be ever so mean about my bungling team’s misfortunes. I saw him in the thick of Camden’s full council meeting last night and managed to dodge him. You can see him on the backbenches below. No doubt my turn for a text message will come around soon…

Plugged in

Olly Murs: Had a new single out...

THE Ofcom ‘bulletin’ is a brilliant thing – it comes out twice a month and details what TV, radio and adverts have been moaned about by viewers and listeners. It’s a dream for any media correspondent on the nationals looking for a quick story, but everybody can see it on Ofcom’s website. The fun of it often lies in how this straight-laced document can clatter head first into the popular subjects it discusses. Like the X-Factor. There is something amusing about a body like Ofcom putting in plain text what has happened on screen, in the driest possible tone.

Below, in red, is the exact text from the bulletin released today. Now, can you guess what the complaint was all about? It is confirmed in the final sentence of this excerpt… but  you should have worked it out long before then.

OFCOM BULLETIN 23/1/2012: Xtra Factor was the ITV2 companion show to the ITV1 singing contest, The X Factor. The programme was presented by Caroline Flack and Olly Murs, and included discussion of the contest’s latest developments.

In this particular broadcast, viewers were able to contact the judges of The X Factor (who were in the studio) and ask questions. A young viewer from Glasgow was connected via webcam and asked Gary Barlow a question. When he responded, Gary Barlow suddenly stopped and said:

Hello, what’s going on here?”

The web link with the viewer was then shown again, briefly revealing that she had held up a handwritten note to camera, which said:Download Olly‟s new single “Dance With Me Tonight”…”.

Later in the programme, the presenters had the following conversation:

Caroline Flack:…and can I just say, how amazing were the guest performances tonight on ITV1?”

Olly Murs: “So good. Rebecca was brilliant and Rihanna, well, she‟s always good.”

Caroline Flack: “Yeah, it was good. Olly, you’ve also got a new single out – at the minute – when are you performing on the show?”

Olly Murs: “I’m performing next weekend – yeah. You know, I’m not into all this plugging. There‟s too much plugging tonight on the show – you know what I mean…”.

Caroline Flack: “Interesting…”.

Olly Murs: “It’s not my cup of tea…”.

As Olly Murs continued, crew members held two large bright green placards in shot (one behind Olly Murs and one next to Caroline Flack), both of which stated:DANCE WITH ME TONIGHT OUT NOW”.

Caroline Flack then interrupted Olly Murs, and said, to a background of the newly- released track:Is that your single playing as well, right now?”

Olly Murs responded:I don’t know what you’re talking about – I genuinely don’t!”

The presenters then introduced Jedward (the twin brothers and singers, John and Edward Grimes), who ran into shot carrying one of the placards, as one of them called out: “Dance With Me Tonight – out now! … I‟m dancing tonight on the screen…”.

A crew member also briefly waved the other placard in shot. The presenters then mentioned the release of new singles by Jedward and Kelly Rowland (a judge on The X Factor), to which one of the brothers responded: “Olly, it‟s crazy, we didn’t know our single was out the same day as your single – it‟s crazy!”

Caroline Flack responded:What a coincidence!”

Later in the interview, spoof letters from viewers were voiced, to which the Grimes brothers responded to, as ‘agony aunts’. The letters were also shown on-screen. The text of the final letter stated:I am one of the UK‟s biggest pop stars with boyish good looks and a sensational haircut. With the music industry being so tough, I have recently gone to extreme lengths to promote my music. I’ve even been on Loose Women. Am I doing the right thing?”

The letter was signed: “Molly Burs”, and contained a PS, which stated:I have a new single called Dance with Me Tonight – out now. Buy it please.”

The Grimes brothers responded:That guy is totally awesome … and he‟s got the same song as you!”

Two viewers were concerned that the programme was used as a platform to promote Olly Murs‟ newly-released single.

How on earth did those two viewers get that impression!? The programme’s makers said “the scripted references to Olly’s single release towards the end of the programme were in keeping with the irreverent tone of the show”. The report said: “The Licensee described the overall effect of this material as “somewhat silly, but good natured, and not excessively promotional for the single, informing the viewers of the release of Olly’s single whilst maintaining an irreverent tone, very much in keeping with the ‘zoo’ format of The Xtra Factor.”That didn’t stop Ofcom saying broadcasting codes had been broken.

It then moved on to Camden Town’s Tulisa, of-off N-Dubz, and whether she had been unfairly promoting her perfume while on the main show…

How journalism works: part 342346

REMEMBER the light-hearted blogpost from the other day about how it was possible to pretend you were renting the flat above Speedy’s cafe in North Gower Street. It’s an important property for telly fans because the drama series Sherlock gives the impression that Holmes lives there. The inside shots of course were filmed miles away and the whole thing was a tad spurious. Like I said, it was just a light-hearted blog.

You can read it again HERE if you really want to.

Or a week later, you can buy the Sunday Express today and learn it all over again. It’s as high up the paper as page 5 (i.e. considered one of the best things they have this week) and branded an ‘EXCLUSIVE’

*Family Fortunes wrong answer buzzer noise* The datemark on The Telegraph’s piece about the same thing, kindly acknowledging where they read it first, makes me wonder whether I really understand what ‘exclusive’ means.

Dear Mr Pickles, can we keep our business rates?

CAMDEN’S irked finance chief Councillor Theo Blackwell wrote to the government this week complaining that it is not being clear enough about what it will do – and what it won’t do – to help local authorities trying to make ends meet with smaller settlements. No doubt Eric Pickles’s postbag is pretty full right now of similar letters.

An interesting section of the letter, see above, is about a bit of a holy grail for Camden and the idea of retaining a bigger share of business rates collected by the council. Just imagine if Camden, covering as it does the fringe of the West End, Camden Town and, as Theo notes the new King’s Cross development, could keep more of the money it collects from businesses. The extra dough would come in kind of handy right now.

Conservative and Lib Dem ministers have talked warmly about the idea of local authorities keeping the money they raise rather than sharing it elsewhere. The government promotes the idea of loosening its role as middle man. But you get the lasting impression from councillors up at Judd Street that although it might be nice to dream about such a lottery win, they deep down think it’s all a bit of wishful thinking. The holy grail, they suggest, may forever remain beyond reach.


HERE’S a thing: Chicago Police are celebrating going a whole day, A WHOLE 24 HOURS, without there being a murder or a shooting.

Chief Garry McCarthy explains: “On January 18, for a 24-hour period, there were no shootings and murders in the city of Chicago. The last time we went a day without a murder or shooting was nearly a year ago in early 2011. This is clearly the result of the tremendous police work of the men and women of the Chicago Police Department.”

At this stage, it’s worth recalling former Camden New Journal reporter Kim Janssen’s portrait of crime and life in Chicago written the day after Obama was elected. Some of his other work suggests he has been in some hair-raising situations himself since swapping Camden Town for Illinois.

The 66-1 shot

IS there a panic at Ladbrokes HQ? Has somebody just had a massive punt on Robert Davis to become the next leader of Westminster Council at a costly price.

Overnight, his odds at the bookmaking firm, as featured on these pages yesterday, have dropped from 66/1 to 5/1. That’s quite a movement, isn’t it? Edward Argar, now at even money, must be starting to look over his shoulder. It all seems a crazy thing to be able to have a flutter on.

NB: Interesting to see Glenys Roberts added to the list.



Who will be Westminster’s new council leader?

YOU know you are the Sir Billy Big-Stuffs of local authorities when Ladbrokes begin offering odds on who will be your next leader. They certainly don’t do that when Camden Council is looking for a new number one, however interesting those prices would be right now.

Westminster City Council – what Sir Alex Ferguson might describe as Camden’s ‘noisy neighbours – is a whole different world. There the Conservatives are searching for a replacement for Colin Barrow, who resigned on Saturday following that awful to-do about central London parking charges. The disclaimer at this point is always that the bookies were very, very wrong about Glenda Jackson’s win in Hampstead and Kilburn, so they do get turned over every now and then – but Edward Argar is way out in front on the list here. A chance for Phillipa Rowe fans to cash in?

Camden’s social media guide: One for Mr Shanker?

OUR councillor chums up at the council are discussing how they should tweet, blog and do other stuff with the informationsuperhighway. A report goes to next week’s full council meeting trying to set out some ‘social media’ guidelines for locally elected politicians. A snippet is below and you can see the whole report by clicking HERE and checking out report 10b.

The ringed bit: ‘Disclose your position as an elected representative so that you cannot be accused of hiding your identity or seeking to influence debate under false pretences’.

One for serial website poster Albert Shanker to look at? 

Camden Council mugs

THE meannest critics of Camden Council argue there are far too many mugs at the Town Hall... but, ahaah, it turns out there aren’t enough.

Spies tell me that a coffee cup crisis is developing in the members room, mainly populated by ruling Labour councillors. Mugs have been disappearing left, right and centre and dozy councillors who can’t remember where they left them have been warned that there is no money to replace them. Council chiefs have been ordered to make do with disposable plastic cups instead.

They won’t get any prizes for being a green council like that.