Saturday, 31 May 2008

in The Catholic Herald this week

By Patrick West
"Robert Nairac was a famously brave and intelligent undercover British agent in Northern Ireland, who in May 1977 was abducted, interrogated and killed by the Provisional IRA. Even his murderers admired the man. “I shot the British captain,” confessed Liam Townson, prior to his conviction for the crime. “He never told us anything. He was a great soldier”.
The legend of Nairac returned to the newspages last week with the announcement that another man has been arrested in connection with the murder. The coverage has also acted to remind us that Nairac, like many British soldiers who have served in Northern Ireland, was a Roman Catholic...."

Read on at , or buy it. Available at all all good Catholic churches... and some rubbish ones too (etc etc)

Friday, 23 May 2008

in spiked this week

By Patrick West

What JD and Co. reveal about real life‘Realistic’ hospital shows like Casualty are actually unrealistic, and painfully moralistic. The weird and surreal Scrubs is much closer to the truth.

"Two questions. Why are hospital dramas usually so crap? And why do mainstream channels ignore genuinely good television comedies?

This was brought to my mind while watching a re-run of the US hospital comedy series Scrubs on E4 the other night. This is one of the most underrated programmes of our time. So why has this Joycean, surreal and brilliant comedy been perpetually relegated to Channel 4’s digital-only entertainment channel, E4, and UKTV’s blokeish re-run channel, Dave? Its rightful place should be on Channel 4 at least, or on BBC1 and ITV1 at best."

Monday, 19 May 2008

in spiked May 16

Patrick West
Why should we pay the Orwellian licence fee?
Threatening TV licence-dodgers with scary ads can’t disguise the fact that fewer people are watching the Beeb.

"Some government public information services or advertisements on behalf of state services never change. Drink-driving awareness adverts invariably feature a before-and-after narrative, beginning with people shown having a merry old time at the pub, and ending with the aforementioned revellers entombed in a bloodied, twisted hunk of metal. Army recruitment adverts have always suggested that by signing up you can become a kind of ersatz, global social worker, learn some skills, or drive an exciting tank; they never mention that being in the Army may actually involve killing people or getting your head blown off. And TV licence adverts have always relied on the trusty old message: ‘We Know Where You Live’...."

in spiked May 13

Patrick West - Premium-rate stupidity - Participants in rigged phone-in votes and flawed viewer competitions deserve no sympathy. Everyone knows it’s a mug’s game. -

"It’s difficult to come to a conclusion as to which lot are more risible: television companies who swindle viewers with phone-in competitions, or the people so stupid as to enter them.

It was announced this week that ITV has been fined a record £5.675million by Ofcom for abusing premium-rate phone services in viewer competitions. Its shows such as Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, Gameshow Marathon and Soapstar Superstar were all found to have ‘serious editorial issues’.

A report also released by ITV revealed that The Catherine Tate Show was unfairly denied a prize at the 2005 British Comedy Awards. Although the comedienne Tate collected more votes for the People’s Choice Award, Ant and Dec were announced as the winners for their Saturday Night Takeaway programme.

Why anyone still bothers to vote in television award ceremonies for their favourite contestants on talent shows, or enters TV competitions is a mystery to me..."

in spiked May 2

Patrick West - Trash TV, trash people? -
There’s one thing that the liberal left and the conservative right share in common: they hate soap operas and the stupid people who watch them. -

"Tomorrow sees the hosting of the tenth-anniversary British Soap Awards. The ceremony will be broadcast next Wednesday, and what an unwittingly perverse celebration of unhappiness and moral bullying it will undoubtedly be.

I concede that announcing that one despises soap operas, decrying them as inconsequential or unrealistic or miserable, is yet another one of those very easy and feeble methods of ingratiating oneself at dinner parties. Like denouncing ‘reality TV’, Rupert Murdoch or George W Bush, it is also a means by which fogeyish Tories and puritan left-liberals can find comforting common ground - and for both similar despicable reasons..."

In The Catholic Herald April 24

Tintin's creator was never a far-right propagandist, says Patrick West -

"The Adventures of Hergé, Creator of Tintin by Michael Farr,
John Murray £20 Posterity has not been kind to Hergé. In many ways, his life resembles that of P G Wodehouse. Both authors were unfairly accused of being Nazi collaborators (Hergé having written for the Belgian Le Soir newspaper in the 1940s when it was a sanctioned organ of the German occupying administration); both their works suggested an unconscious misogynistic mindset: Wodehouse's world was one in which the only female characters were airheaded or manipulative girlfriends, or the aunts Dahlia (bossy) and Agatha (terrifying); Hergé's only real female character was the monstrous pest, Bianca Castafiore, based on Maria Callas. And both Hergé's and Wodehouse's tales centred on two asexual characters, one of whom was phlegmatic and rational, the other spirited and tempestuous: Tintin and Haddock, Jeeves and Wooster..."

in spiked April 24

Patrick West
The harsh truth of the camera eye
When Esther Rantzen complains that Simon Cowell, Alan Sugar et al are too cruel when judging participants, she forgets one thing; that’s life.

"Is it cruel to be truthful? Or is it kind to be a liar? It is an age-old quandary, but according to some television people these days, the latter is the more ethical avenue of pursuit. So when it comes to television and morality, nothing receives more unfavourable attention currently than ‘reality TV’. No one likes reality, because no one likes the truth..."