UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

from Royal Wedding Diary:

Press faces royal wedding day dilemmas

Royals9.jpgMedia companies, particularly from Britain and North America, are pouring a lot of resources into covering the April 29 wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton in London. The amount of money they are spending, and the temptation to decide what their millions of viewers want to see, could cloud editorial judgment on the day should things not go according to plan.

One potential problem could be if a small number of protesters turn violent, and attempt to "hijack" an event which the British government believes will be watched in some shape or form by more than a quarter of the Earth's population. This happened only recently in London when a march by up to half a million people protesting at spending cuts by the government was overshadowed by the violent actions of a few hundred "radicals". The British broadcasters generally focussed more closely on the few than on the many, but would they do the same later this month?

Certainly the royal press teams and the monarch herself will be keen for media companies to stay "on message". They will see the wedding of the generally popular young couple as a good opportunity to bolster the royal family, and anything to spoil the big day would irk them no end. So far the press has been generally compliant, giving Middleton and William a relatively easy ride and producing overwhelmingly positive coverage of the marriage. Of course, there may be no violence on the day at all, but were things to turn nasty, would the broadcasters point their cameras away from the pomp and pageantry of the royal occasion to capture smashed windows and police in riot gear?

Another temptation may be to give the impression that there are more people lining the streets than is actually the case. There is no particular reason to doubt the event will be well attended (the wedding between Prince Charles and Diana drew an estimated crowd of 600,000 people to the streets of central London), but should it "flop" in terms of numbers, would this be accurately reflected in coverage? Graham Smith, who heads up the anti-monarchy Republic group, said he would be watching broadcasters like the BBC carefully on the day, ready to make a formal complaint if what he sees on his TV screen does not reflect what is going on on the street.

from Fan Fare:

May one moan about the royal wedding?

Royals1.jpgI may be in Berlin covering the film festival, but I'm keeping half an eye on the press coverage of the royal wedding. Needless to say there is an awful lot of it, and some of the stories appear to be as much fiction as fact, if not more so. The tone is almost entirely positive, with commentators glowing about the young royal couple, her style, his grace, how good it all is for the country, economy, morale, soul -- oh you get the gist.

Now there is not necessarily anything wrong with being positive -- after all, we are talking about a couple of 20-somethings about to embark on a big adventure (marriage) and we should wish them well.

from Fan Fare:

Laden in Red – Chris de Burgh sells fine wines

Chris de Burgh"The Lady in Red" singer Chris de Burgh has decided to cash in on surging prices for fine wines, offering 320 bottles and 84 magnums of mainly red varieties at Christie's in March which are expected to fetch in the region of 200,000 pounds ($320,000).

“Looking at the economics of the wine trade and how the business of selling wine fluctuates, I decided now was the right time," he said in a statement. Not surprising -- Asian buyers, particularly from China, have piled into the wine market in the last two years sending prices soaring. Christie's sold wine worth $71.2 million in 2010, a whopping 70 percent increase over 2009, and fellow musician Andrew Lloyd Webber made a cool 3.5 million pounds from a much larger wine sale in Hong Kong last month.

from Fan Fare:

“X Factor” hits wrong note

Cheryl1Britain's "The X Factor" has struck a bum chord, even before the main knock-out phase of the hugely popular TV show begins. Judge Cheryl Cole has incensed thousands of viewers with her selection of three finalists from a shortlist of eight contestants. Hopeful Gamu Nhengu, 18, was rejected by Cole, despite impressing with her audition and being among the early favourites to win the show.

One reason for the strength of the reaction -- nearly 90,000 people have already leant their support to a Facebook page supporting Zimbabwe-born Nhengu -- is that Cher Lloyd went through to the finals, despite being able to sing barely a note due to a sore throat. Katie Waissel also succeeded, despite failing to impress many who watched the show at the weekend. Only Cole's choice of the accomplished Rebecca Ferguson was universally popular.

from Fan Fare:

Who is greatest stage actor of all?

McKellenSo who is the greatest stage actor of them all?

Britain's "The Stage" theatrical publication is holding a poll to ask visitors to its website to choose who is the best stage actor of all time. Six of the 10 shortlisted artists are still alive, and include legends not only of the stage, but also the screen, including Judi Dench and Ian McKellen (pictured at right). The Stage will keep the voting lines open for the next 10 weeks and publish the winner in a special Christmas edition.

Here is the full list. How about giving us your opinion as well? And if you think the best ever to walk the boards is not on the list, let us know.

from Fan Fare:

UK’s X Factor gets off to rocky start

cowell3The X Factor, one of Britain's most-watched television programmes, has got off to a rocky start this year with its integrity called into question after it came to light that some contestants' performances had been enhanced using computer software. A spokesman for the show, a pillar of ITV1's annual scheduling, admitted that post-production work was sometimes necessary due to the number of microphones used during filming. But he also told British media that judges make their decisions during the audition stages based on what they hear live, and that later shows are all genuinely live.

The revelations have prompted negative media comment and online complaints from some fans, although few people expect them to have too much of an impact on viewing figures. The first episode of this year's series was watched by 11.1 million people, up from last year's figure of 9.9 million.

from Fan Fare:

With Jedward gone, has X Factor lost its X factor?

BRITAIN/So, the “terrible twins” from Ireland, John and Edward Grimes, have been booted off the X Factor, ending their skin-of-the-teeth, tip-of-the-fingernail existence on the show.


Once again in the bottom two of a public vote, Jedward were up against Olly Murs, the singer from Essex who was many tipsters' favourite to win the show … at least until last night.

from Fan Fare:

Robbie wins over doubters with comeback gig

robbie1Robbie Williams did himself few favours when he sang his new single on the X Factor TV show, with the former Take That star clearly nervous, some would say positively wired.

But the 35-year-old put that setback behind him on Tuesday night with his first full concert in three years at the Roundhouse in London which scored well with the critics. Both the Guardian and Telegraph broadsheets gave Williams four stars out of five, quite an achievement for someone who says he suffers from stage fright.

Madonna has one, so does Bruno; will Elton also get one?


OUKTP-UK-UKRAINE-ELTONJOHN-ADOPTIONMadonna has one, so does Bruno; will Elton also get one?

British pop singer Elton John may join the growing list of celebrities like Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Madonna who adopt babies from developing countries around the world. John who was visiting Ukraine with his Aids Charity foundation said on Saturday he wanted to adopt a 14-month-old boy called Lev.

John, aged 62, has already drawn criticism for his adoption plans from an international children’s charity which says celebrity adoption stories pressure vulnerable mothers to give up their children in the hope of giving them a better life.

from Fan Fare:

Big Brother – will you miss it?

So farewell, Big Brother. You have been on British screens every year for the last decade, but 2010 will be your last, unless someone else can be persuaded to pay production company Endemol for a show that has seen ijadets ratings slump.

Channel 4 announced it is ditching the reality TV series, which in its prime enjoyed audiences as big as 10 million Britons but now is viewed by less than two million. Some pundits say it is tired and dull. Others say it never recovered from the 2007 race row when Jade Goody was accused of bullying Indian housemate Shilpa Shetty, prompting tens of thousands of complaints. Justice was seen to be done when Goody was evicted and Shetty went on to win.